New 16th Street Bridge name panned as risk to public safety
Allegheny County risks public safety by renaming the 16th Street Bridge after a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, a Pittsburgh emergency official warned leaders this week.
Legislation signed by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Wednesday renames the bridge for Point Breeze native David McCullough. There is a McCullough Street, two blocks long, in California-Kirkbride in the North Side several minutes from the bridge.
That redundancy could lead 911 dispatchers to misdirect police, firefighters and medics, Ray DeMichiei, deputy director of city Emergency Management, wrote in an email on Wednesday to more than a dozen city and county officials. The duplication also violates national safety standards the city adopted to help avoid such situations, he added in the email.
“It doesn't make any sense,” said City Council President Darlene Harris, whose district includes half the bridge. “If I would have known, I would have had a discussion with the county executive.”
County dispatchers have directed emergency responders to the wrong place several times because of duplicate names. There are duplications across the county, but call takers are trained to ask questions to avoid problems, Fitzgerald's spokeswoman Amie Downs said.
County officials consulted Emergency Services officials who run the 911 center, and they had no concerns, she added.
“Ultimately it comes down to the call taker, and we think they are very well-trained,” Downs said. “And while obviously there are always errors and accidents that occur, we take every precaution.”
The city passed legislation in 2008 to create an address committee to ensure names of honorary streets don't conflict with existing ones. The committee, which DeMichiei led, began reviewing all city street names in 2010 after an incident in which dispatchers sent paramedics to Overlook Drive in Schenley Park instead of Overlook Street in the North Side.
The woman in that case survived, but 911 operators made a similar mistake less than a month later, sending responders to Bigelow Boulevard in Oakland instead of Bigelow Square, Downtown, where a man collapsed and later died.
Emergency workers made the same mistake “on other occasions” that did not make news reports, DeMichiei wrote.
The address committee will study the 16th Street Bridge name change, said Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. She declined to comment further.
The bridge is county property, and it's up to county officials to name it, county officials said. Many noted that other honorary bridge names — Clemente, Carson and Murray — share names with city streets.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Dormont man missing since Wednesday found dead at Station Square
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto works to smooth path for business ties with Cuba
- Pittsburgh police arrest Overbrook man for Allentown playground shooting
- Homicide by vehicle trial closes; verdict Monday
- Allegheny Intermediate Unit to distribute $530,000 in STEAM grants to 28 school districts
- Bethel Park teacher’s profane tweet raises eyebrows
- State lawmaker proposes changes to Penn State’s board of trustees
- U.S. Marshals task force arrests homicide suspect in Monroeville
- Police seek help finding missing Squirrel Hill man
- Penn Hills votes to sell, lease vacant school space
- Newsmaker: Doug Ogden