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2-way travel on West Pittsburgh, West Otterman streets in Greensburg proposed

| Friday, July 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A consultant proposed on Thursday that West Pittsburgh and West Otterman streets be changed from one-way to two-way travel to bolster development in Greensburg's 5th and 6th wards.

Paul Ostergaard, managing principal of Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh, said the two roads handle fewer vehicles than they did in the 1950s and 1960s. Construction of highways outside the city has led to the drop in traffic volume, he explained.

“We think the one way is unnecessary, and all it does is encourage speeding,” Ostergaard told about 35 people during a presentation in the Seton Hill University arts center.

Council members Kathleen McCormick, Randy Finfrock and Rob DePasquale were among those at the meeting.

City council hired Ostergaard's firm to listen to residents and business leaders, analyze their concerns and suggestions and design a health care district centered around Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in the two wards.

City officials said they hope to spark development and “enhance the charm and character of the residential neighborhoods,” according to the proposal for a consultant.

Changing the two one-way streets will allow for bicycle paths, trees and other improvements, Ostergaard said.

He said Pittsburgh Street handles between 4,100 and 8,500 vehicles daily, while Otterman Street has 7,200 vehicles daily. Main Street, he noted, carries 11,000 vehicles daily.

Ostergaard's suggestions followed a meeting last month during which more than 100 people shared what they thought were positives, negatives and opportunities in the two wards.

Members of Ostergaard's firm met this week with business leaders, and Ostergaard stressed he agreed with residents who supported building a pedestrian/bike bridge that would link Seton Hill with the Depot Street area.

“I think it's one of the strongest supported ideas,” he added.

Ostergaard described Depot Street as under-used and a prime area for business and housing development.

He further suggested changing access roads to Daniels & Miller scrap yard and said Excela officials need to look at consolidating parking.

Residents said the neighborhoods' strengths include the presence of Excela, the pride they feel for their community, the walkability and friendliness of the area and the proximity to Seton Hill.

Residents cited drug trafficking, vacant buildings, absentee landlords and parking as among the negatives.

They listed more businesses, more and safer recreation areas and more pedestrian improvements as opportunities.

“The process is still evolving,” Ostergaard told the crowd. “We haven't settled on any idea yet.”

Ostergaard said he will consider responses made by city leaders and residents to his proposed recommendations and suggestions.

“We'll probably adapt our recommendations, revise them ourselves and produce a draft report,” he added.

He anticipated the report would be completed by late summer or early fall.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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