A section of Forbes Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh could become a two-way street to help accommodate traffic from a 335-space parking garage to be built as part of a $95 million office and hotel project.
The city is studying the possibility of allowing traffic to flow both directions on Forbes from at least Market Square to Wood Street and perhaps the entire way to Smithfield Street, said Yarone Zober, chief of staff to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
Forbes is now one-way westbound from Smithfield to Market Square.
The impetus is coming from the Gardens at Market Square project, an 18-story high-rise to be built on Forbes near the square. It will be home to 125,000 square feet of office space, a 197-room Hilton Garden Inn, street-level retail and the parking garage.
Last week, the city Historic Review Commission approved a revised plan for the Gardens project that included moving the entrance and exit of the garage to Forbes. Previously, the exit from the garage as well as one entrance was on Fourth Avenue.
Lucas Piatt, Millcraft's president and chief operating officer, said the change makes for better design and will help to alleviate parking issues affecting Market Square. With no need for ramps or infrastructure to handle traffic on Fourth, the change also creates better open space near Fourth, he said.
Moving the garage exit and an entrance from Fourth to Forbes apparently is part of an agreement Millcraft has reached with the E.V. Bishoff Co., the owner of the Investment Building on Fourth, to settle design-related challenges related to the Gardens project. Mr. Piatt said he could not comment, citing a confidentiality agreement. David Bishoff, president of the E.V. Bishoff Co., could not be reached for comment.
Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said that making Forbes a two-way street also could help to improve the traffic flow into and out of Market Square. He said the partnership has just begun conversations with Downtown stakeholders.
"There are a lot of things to consider. It's certainly something worth evaluating and that's where we're at now," he said.
Two-way traffic, coupled with plans for new sidewalks and lights and the construction of the Gardens and PNC's new $400 million skyscraper, could help to transform Forbes into a "marquee street," Mr. Waldrup said.
While Millcraft is looking to make Forbes two-way between Market Square and Wood Street, the city also is examining the potential to extend that to Smithfield. Forbes already is two way between Smithfield and Cherry Way. It then reverts to one way between Cherry Way and Grant Street.
Mr. Zober said converting most of Forbes to two-way traffic could help make driving less confusing Downtown. He said the early indications are that building owners and others in the corridor appear to favor a change.
"If you're working to improve the Downtown business district, you want to eliminate as much confusion as you can," he said.
The city's public works department is studying whether such a move is feasible. Mr. Zober said the city's interest in making the change was unrelated to any agreement reached by Millcraft and the Bishoff company.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262.