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Postal service to remove mailboxes along Pittsburgh marathon route

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 11:00 a.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
All Occasion Party Rental employee Darrell Reed of Robinson works to set up tents and tables on Wednesday May 1, 2013, at Point State Park in preparation for the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.

Around the Smiling Banana Leaf restaurant on Wednesday, police tacked up “No parking” signs, an early and expected preparation for the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday.

But soon mailboxes, trash cans and newspaper boxes from the North Shore to Oakland, through East Liberty, Bloomfield and the Strip District — along the snaking 26.2-mile marathon route — will disappear.

“I didn't even think about that,” said Smiling Banana Leaf manager Alex Lysenko, whose Highland Park restaurant is on the route.

Taking city trash cans, blue U.S. Postal Service mailboxes and newspaper racks off the streets is a security tactic authorities used for the 2009 G-20 summit and Super Bowl and Stanley Cup celebrations in the city.

It's never been done for the marathon, said Public Safety Director Michael Huss, who outlined increased security measures for the race because of the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line.

“I think everyone understands that we're looking to eliminate things that would hide an object,” Huss said.

Scouting the marathon route, Pittsburgh police officers identified boxes and bins in “high-density” areas, Huss said. Some removal started on Wednesday.

“It's not a major endeavor,” Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski said of removing the trash cans. “We'll try and get them back in the next week.”

The cost to remove trash cans is small, said Kaczorowski, who would not say whether city workers might work overtime to do so.

Officials asked vendors to remove some bins and boxes, including some of the approximately 400 newspaper boxes along the route, Huss said.

The Tribune-Review will unbolt 38 newspaper boxes on Thursday night and store them in a distribution lot for the weekend, said Jeff Simmons, executive director of circulation for Trib Total Media. Employees will return the boxes in time for Monday's paper. Newspapers will go to stores near where the boxes were, he said.

The Trib removed newspaper boxes during the G-20 summit and for some championship celebrations, Simmons said. People wishing to mail letters in boxes along the route should do so by Friday, said Tad Kelley, spokesman for the postal service. About 60 mailboxes will be off the streets but will return by Monday. The postal service will store them at its North Shore mail processing plant, Kelley said.

Maintenance crews will work regularly scheduled shifts, not overtime, to remove them, Kelley said. The agency routinely removes collection boxes for repairs or replacement and has done so for marathons in other cities.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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