Thoroughfare in Pittsburgh's South Side could see improvements

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PennDOT is reviewing possible safety changes along East and West Carson Street on the South Side after the area showed up as No. 6 on the list of the most dangerous roadways in the state.

The ranking is based on vehicle and pedestrian accidents from 2007 through 2011, said Todd Kravits, PennDOT's District 11 traffic engineer. The dangerous area runs from the West End Bridge through the bar and restaurant district to SouthSide Works.

The roadway has more than its fair share of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians, Mr. Kravits said, especially between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. He said the state Department of Transportation is working with the city's Public Works Department to identify possible capital improvements to address the situation.

"We don't know what those improvements are going to be yet," he said. "That's why we're taking a comprehensive look at the whole corridor to see what it needs."

The corridor has two distinct sections, each with its own set of problems. From the West End Bridge through Station Square, it is a four-lane area with limited traffic lights and pedestrian traffic. From 10th Street through SouthSide Works, it has two lanes with traffic signals, parking on both sides in most areas and an overflow of customers from the restaurants and bars -- as many as 10,000 people on busy weekends.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus and Jim Peters, president of the nonprofit Responsible Hospitality Institute, said safety improvements are one element of a comprehensive transportation plan for the area. Transportation was one factor the institute focused on in a study released in December aimed at helping the entertainment district and neighborhood residents coexist peacefully.

Right now, the weekend blitzes started in January by Pittsburgh police are a good first step to improve traffic safety, Mr. Kravits said.

Currently, no money is earmarked for capital improvements, so any physical changes probably are two years away, Mr. Kravits said. Among the possibilities are more visible traffic signals with visual and audible countdowns for safe pedestrian crossings; improving sight lines so drivers and pedestrians have better views of each other; and new curb ramps for better handicapped accessibility.

neigh_city - Transportation

Ed Blazina: eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470.


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