Things to do in Larimer
Mural in Larimer. Photo by Erika Gidley

Last September, Pittsburgh accepted a challenge from the National Complete Streets Coalition to launch a community-focused pilot project aimed at transforming a dangerous intersection or street into a safe, multi-modal space.

Durham, N.C., and Huntsville, Ala., took on the same challenge. After several months of preparation, it’s time for these cities to show their work.

Starting this week, the City of Pittsburgh and a deep bench of community partners will begin a series of public forums gathering input for the redevelopment of the intersection of Frankstown and Lincoln avenues in Larimer.

Both the forums and the reconstruction are funded by a grant from Road to Zero, a coalition of advocacy organizations dedicated to reducing traffic deaths.

“Safety is our highest priority. But we also want to build a great city with streets that reflect and value the pride and people of our great neighborhoods,” said Department of Mobility and Infrastructure Director Karina Ricks. “We are looking forward to working with local neighbors in this effort as they are the real experts of this intersection.”

This particular intersection was chosen because of its long history of accidents, and the fact that school children and bicyclists pass through it on a daily basis.

The first public meeting will take place on April 2 at 6 p.m. at the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh on Turret Street. From there, city workers will apply community suggestions to a temporary, pop-up street design that will be unveiled at a ceremony near the end of this month. The next step will be further community discussions on the final design.

The forums are a collaboration with the Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Port Authority of Allegheny County, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and United Way.

Launched in 2004, the Washington, D.C.-based National Complete Streets Coalition mainly works by providing local governments with policy frameworks for new streets that accommodate a variety of transportation modes. The coalition is an offshoot of Smart Growth America.

More than 1,400 communities nationwide have adopted the guidelines, including Etna, Sharpsburg and Millvale in the last year alone.

“Every death on our roadways is one death too many,” said Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. “This program helps cities around the country explore new ways to make their streets safer for people of all ages and abilities and work toward the goal of eliminating deaths on our roads.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.