A new stage in the transformation of East Liberty will begin Monday with a $5 million project to improve the Penn Circle South and East corridor.
The city is making intersection, sidewalk, pavement and streetscape improvements on Penn Circle South and East between South Highland Avenue and Collins Street in advance of the opening of a new Target store.
The project will convert Penn Circle South and East to two-way traffic and seeks to create a "Main Street" ambience with new landscaping, benches, lighting and bike racks, said Patrick Hassett, the city's assistant public works director for transportation and engineering.
The first phase of construction will close South Highland Avenue to southbound traffic at Penn Circle South, as a traffic island is removed. The closure is expected to begin next week and take up to two weeks. Some Port Authority routes will be detoured.
Various other lane restrictions will be needed and will be announced by the city as the project proceeds, Mr. Hassett said.
The long-coveted Target store is being built on the northeast corner of Penn Avenue and Penn Circle East. It joins Home Depot and Whole Foods Market as anchors in a bustling corridor that had long suffered from blight.
Mr. Hassett said the street improvements were "driven by what we're seeing (in development) all along Penn Circle" but were given urgency by Target's announcement in June that it was coming to East Liberty.
The goal is to increase the visibility of the store by restoring two-way traffic on Penn Circle and making the corridor more inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists, he said.
As part of the project, the looping ramp from the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway to the Penn Avenue-Penn Circle intersection will be decommissioned and the current five-way traffic pattern changed into a conventional four-way pattern.
A portion of Broad Street going east from Penn Circle also will be improved, with a new traffic signal at the Larimer Avenue intersection. A new segment of Shakespeare Street will be built between Stevenson Place and Penn Circle.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of May, in time for the opening of the Target store, Mr. Hassett said.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868. Visit "The Roundabout," the Post-Gazette's transportation blog, at post-gazette.com.