The Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety suspended its South Side traffic calming initiative over the weekend due to a partial collapse of a building in the 1600 block of East Carson Street during severe storms on Thursday evening.
Public safety officials had planned to begin traffic restrictions in the neighborhood at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in response to comments from business owners concerned about access to restaurants and retail stores in the early evening.
The restrictions, which converted part of East Carson Street to a destination-only road, began at 7 p.m. when public safety officials put them in place on July 30.
But city officials said they completely changed those plans after Thursday’s storms inflicted so much damage on the upper level of a two-story building at 1604 E. Carson St. that engineers feared its structural integrity and that of adjacent buildings has not been compromised.
Public Safety officials said Friday afternoon they would close East Carson Street between South 16th and 17th Streets to begin demolishing the building, using a large crane erected across the street. Traffic will be diverted around the block, and tractor-trailers and longer industrial vehicles must divert via the 10th Street Bridge or Birmingham Bridge.
Officials have offered no time frame for completing the demolition or reopening the street, saying the situation is changing and some businesses in the area will be affected by the street closure. They said they would provide more information when available.
Public Safety officials have launched the Traffic Calming Pilot Program with the goal of reducing violence and overcrowding on busy East Carson Street.
Officials pointed to an increase in shootings, fights and pedestrians struck by vehicles in the neighborhood, and said the project was successful in preventing traffic jams and violence on East Carson Street.
Police have also installed large lights near 18th Street where crowds tend to congregate. Additional police officers have been assigned to patrol the area during the busiest times of the weekend.
* Update at 9 p.m.