Piatt Place tries to cope with sagging sidewalks
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People who walk on Fifth Avenue Downtown do the sidewalk shuffle.
Five orange traffic cones indicate the spots where a stretch of sidewalk between Wood and Smithfield streets -- in front of Piatt Place and next to a Bank of America ATM -- dips slightly.
As people walked down Fifth Avenue Friday morning, they maneuvered across the sidewalk and around the cones. Yet Danie Thompson, who works across the street at the Kids Foot Locker store, still occasionally sees people stumble.
"I tripped over there one time," she said, before the traffic cones were in place.
Similar to how property owners are responsible for shoveling snow off their sidewalks, they must also maintain and repair the walkways that surround their property, said Ben Carlise, operations manager for the city's Public Works department.
Edward T. Page Jr., director of property management for Millcraft Industries, the real estate developer for Piatt Place, said the company was in the process of assigning a contractor to repair the sidewalk and obtaining a permit from the city to do the work.
"We are working on it," he said Friday.
Repairing sidewalks is a regular endeavor not just for Downtown property owners, but throughout the city, Mr. Carlise said. Since Jan. 1, Public Works has issued 200 permits for sidewalk repair work in Pittsburgh.
Washington County-based Millcraft Industries spends thousands of dollars a year to maintain and repair sidewalks surrounding their Downtown properties, Mr. Page said.
A recent attempt to fix the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue was unsuccessful, he said, and the company has secured three bids from contractors to perform the work necessary to bolster the sidewalk's concrete foundation and raise the walkway to an even level. He was not sure when the work would start.
Mr. Carlise said the Downtown building inspector, who has been coordinating with Millcraft as they work to repair the sidewalk, told him that the sidewalk next to Piatt Place is made of terrazzo -- a more complicated material than other Downtown sidewalks and a material that required a skilled contractor for repairs.
The company put the traffic cones on the sidewalk "several weeks" ago because they were concerned the sidewalk could be a tripping hazard, Mr. Page said. Ms. Thompson, the shoe store employee, estimated the traffic cones had been in place for at least two months.
The Public Works Department recommends property owners visibly indicate if there is a problem with a sidewalk, Mr. Carlise said. He said it was not unusual to have visual indicators, such as traffic cones, in place for several weeks.
Melvin Johnson Sr. of Uptown had not been Downtown in a while, but he was standing on Fifth Avenue Friday next to the traffic cones, waiting for a bus.
"They need attention," he said, referring to the sidewalk panels.
Millcraft plans to make the sidewalk repairs quickly, Mr. Page said.
"We certainly do Class A projects in the city of Pittsburgh, and it is certainly something that we want to get repaired as quickly as possible," he said.
First Published July 30, 2012 12:00 am