Department of Public Works

City of Pittsburgh

Businesses in the West End neighborhood of Pittsburgh are paying for flood insurance they might not really need anymore.

That’s according to Patrick Hassett, Assistant Director of Public Works, who said work begun by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2000 has largely stamped out the threat of flooding from Sawmill Run.

“We dredged and put in retaining walls along the stream bed to better contain the flooding waters, and PennDOT came in and made highway improvements that elevated some of the bridges to reduce the obstructions,” Hassett said.

Photo courtesy of Optimus Technologies

The city of Pittsburgh is gearing up to outfit 20 vehicles in the Department of Public Works with biodiesel technology and install a bio fueling station at its 29th Street garage.

Sustainability manager Grant Ervin said the city is teaming up with Homewood-based Optimus Technologies on the project aimed at reducing costs and emissions.

Google maps / Google.co

An estimated 19,000 vehicles cross the Greenfield Avenue Bridge each day, but commuters will have to find a new route later this year.

That’s because the bridge is being demolished and the replacement won’t be open until 2017. Prep work for the demolition is expected to begin in in mid-October.

The City’s Department of Public Works is hosting a public meeting Tuesday in which officials will reveal the new bridge’s official design.

There hasn’t been much snowfall in Pittsburgh so far this season – just a little less than 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service – but that hasn’t stopped the Department of Public Works from stockpiling rock salt and updating its plows.

“Winter up to this point really hasn’t been one,” Mike Gable, public works director, said. “We’ve only had a few, basically, icy events and haven’t had to use a lot of salt, but all our domes are filled to capacity. We’ve not had any trouble at all with delivery from the vendors.”

Allegheny County is making it easier to avoid road construction and get vaccinations now that its notification program has expanded to the Public Works and Health departments.

Allegheny Alerts is a program that will call, text, or email people who sign up about the four departments involved. The program began in April with the Parks Department and the Kane Regional Centers.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Another country concert is coming to Pittsburgh, and this time the city is preparing with new rules and increased law enforcement to gear up for Jason Aldean’s 38,000 fans at PNC Park this Saturday.

City officials announced Tuesday that parking lots will open at 2 p.m., instead of 11 a.m. and parking lot operators will be handing out trash and recycling bags to concert goers. The number of port-o-johns has been increased from 160 to 200. Tailgating once the concert begins is not permitted; anyone without a ticket at 7:30 p.m. will be asked to leave.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and other city officials announced the construction of three protected bike lanes in the city. The lanes will be built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park, along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield, and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue Downtown.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following the weekend’s Luke Bryan concert at Heinz Field, the Internet has been abuzz with pictures and videos of people tailgating, people falling in the road drunk and garbage the crowds left behind — not unlike the aftermath of last year’s Kenny Chesney concert.

On Monday, the message from Mayor Bill Peduto's office was that the trashing of Pittsburgh needs to stop.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As warmer weather approaches, city crews are ready to start paving some of the most problematic streets in Pittsburgh.

Mayor Bill Peduto said following one of the worst winters in the last 20 years, roads have been left battered. But standing alongside the pothole-ridden Brookline Boulevard, he said road conditions can also be blamed on years of city budgets under-funding infrastructure.

Phil Quinn / wikipedia

Pittsburgh’s topography is pretty unique as far as cities go. It's essentially a peninsula surrounded by mountains. And with the city's numerous bridges and triangular shape, facilitating efficient traffic patterns has long been a challenge for the region.

Pittsburgher Phil Anderson runs the popular blog The Nonsensical Roads of Pittsburgh, where he records his observations about bizarre traffic and road layouts. He's driven in cities throughout the world and seems to find Pittsburgh infrastructure both amusing and frustrating.

“You have stages of driving on Pittsburgh roads," he said. "There’s anger, grief, and eventually you have acceptance.”

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is an old city with old roads. From cobblestones, to brick, to brittle asphalt, the addition of winter weather can make our daily commutes pretty treacherous.

Last week, Mayor Peduto appointed public works veteran, Mike Gable as the new Department of Public Works Director.

Gable hopes the city can find more funding in order to get on track with  winter street maintenance plans.

“Well this is a very tough time of the year, obviously. The roads are in bad shape as a result of the freezing and thawing that has been occurring over the past couple of weeks. But, its also a product of not making the investment that we’ve had to make to repair the roads with our resurfacing program.”

In the resurfacing program calls for a target of 80 miles per year, but the department has only been paving 30 to 40 miles per year, Gable says this is not a recipe for success.

The Pittsburgh Department of Public Works will soon be outfitting 11 downtown intersections with brand new traffic lights, poles, wires and pedestrian signals.

Legislation to approve the upgrades is up for a final vote in City Council on Tuesday.

DPW Deputy Director Patrick Hasset said the new signals will also be connected via fiber optic cables to the DPW’s control room in City Hall, where they’ll be able to control the signals remotely. Currently, the department can remotely control about 130 the city’s more than 600 signals.