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Contrasts evident along 3.5-mile stretch of Brownsville Road

| Thursday, July 25, 2013, 12:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record
Brownsville Road in Brentwood.
A pedestrian crosses Bownsville Road in front of Giant Eagle in Brentwood.
A pedestrian crosses Bownsville Road in front of Giant Eagle in Brentwood.
A pedestrian walks along Brownsville Road in Brentwood.

Pedestrians walk to school, church or prospering business districts on tree-lined sidewalks along Brownsville Road, passing historical landmarks, public-art displays and grassy areas.

Yet in sections of the same 3.5-mile stretch of road, people must walk on broken pavement through dimly-lit areas, past dilapidated and vacant structures.

Two vastly different streetscapes exist along Brownsville Road in Brentwood and Pittsburgh, Scenic Pittsburgh communications director Nichole Huff said.

“Basically, one's ugly, and one's not. One's welcoming, and one's not, and they're both on the same road,” Huff said, as she showed two different images of Brownsville Road at a presentation last week. “These environments could be more similar.”

Findings from three studies on how to improve the Brownsville Road corridor from Nobles Lane in Pittsburgh to Route 51 in Brentwood were shared with about 30 residents and officials from the City of Pittsburgh and Brentwood at a public meeting.

The studies, performed during the last six months, focused on improving various aspects of the Brownsville Road corridor, said Greg Jones, executive director of nonprofit Economic Development South.

“We're trying to synthesize all of the planning that has been done for the area,” Jones said.

A scenic asset inventory, completed by Scenic Pittsburgh, was meant to identify, catalogue and produce recommendations for how to improve aesthetics along Brownsville Road.

Huff said the study recommended that local leaders work to remediate blight, including removing graffiti and upgrading building facades.

A study by Community Technical Assistance Center, or CTAC, reviewed public safety and was funded with $5,000 earmarked by Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.

April Clisura, senior community development specialist with CTAC, which advises local community organizations, said a survey of about 100 people showed residents would like an increase in police patrols in the area. Residents also raised concerns about a lack of lighting, she said.

A study done by consulting firm Jackson/Clark Partners focused on creating an “action strategy for the Brownsville Road corridor, by breaking the street into eight districts.”

Each district would serve a purpose, such as a market anchor or mixed-used area, said Pat Clark of Jackson/Clark Partners.

Yet, each needs improvements, he said, and while some areas need facade upgrades to attract people others need more businesses, Clark said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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