Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

PROJECT AIMS TO BOLSTER SAFETY ON LIBERTY AVENUE IN STRIP DISTRICT [Corrected 08/22/17]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

PROJECT AIMS TO BOLSTER SAFETY ON LIBERTY AVENUE IN STRIP DISTRICT [Corrected 08/22/17]

Article excerpt

The following CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION appeared on August 22, 2017.Liberty Avenue between Downtown and Lower Lawrenceville saw about 19,000 vehicle trips a day in 2016, according to data provided Monday by the City of Pittsburgh. A state figure referenced earlier by the city - and included in a Monday story - is not the correct statistic.

Give it a couple years, and traveling Liberty Avenue in the Strip District shouldn't feel so much like a sardine can.

Wider, safer traffic lanes, new pedestrian signals and better lighting are among the changes planned there by 2019 or 2020. The nearly $6 million improvement project relies on almost-equal amounts of federal and local money, said Karina Ricks, the city mobility and infrastructure director.

She said driving Liberty between Grant Street in Downtown and Herron Avenue in Lower Lawrenceville verges on a "white-knuckled experience." The longtime configuration of four narrow lanes wouldn't pass muster under current engineering practices, she said last week.

"It's high-stress, I think, for everyone - regardless of what mode you're traveling in," Ms. Ricks said.

Identified as a high-crash corridor by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the targeted stretch of Liberty spans just about 2 miles from Downtown through the Strip. A study several years ago suggested that the thoroughfare lose its four-lane setup "because it's only 38 feet wide," said Todd Kravits, a PennDOT traffic engineer.

He said the city's switch to three broader lanes should help reduce wrecks, including sideswipe and head-on collisions. The project also should prevent pedestrian-related crashes, a number of which have happened there, Mr. Kravits said. State data show a daily average of about 19,000 vehicle trips in the corridor.

Specific crash statistics weren't immediately available last week, and details of the new lane alignment have yet to be sorted out.

"The big expectation of this project is to improve safety along the corridor," Mr. …

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