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Allegheny County steps up with $100K to improve Slopes staircases

Aaron Aupperlee
| Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 12:55 p.m.
Kimberly Hackel, 41 and her son Jake Hackl, 19 of Arlington use the Sterling Street city steps to access the South Side to commute to work, to pick up groceries and run errands.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Kimberly Hackel, 41 and her son Jake Hackl, 19 of Arlington use the Sterling Street city steps to access the South Side to commute to work, to pick up groceries and run errands.

Allegheny County is stepping up to help Pittsburgh's South Side repair crumbling staircases.

The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association received a $100,000 grant from the county's Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund to study and repair some of the neighborhood's public steps, the group announced on Tuesday.

The South Side Slopes has 68 staircases — more than any other city neighborhood —and many are in need of repair, said Brad Palmisiano, an association board member.

“While it's not going to completely solve the problem, it's great to get some momentum going,” Palmisiano said.

The grant was one of nine totaling $1.16 million awarded from the county fund, said Dennis Davin, the county's economic development director. The fund receives state gambling money. Davin said the county awards money to about one of every eight applicants.

“There are some that just rise above, and this is one of them,” Davin said of the association's plea for help. “This is an ongoing problem in the city.

“The city doesn't have enough money to maintain all these, but it seems like they are getting utilized more and more.”

Adam Jette, 32, uses the 10th Street steps daily to reach his home on Hartford Street.

“We wouldn't move where we did if they weren't there,” Jette said. “We wouldn't have a connection to the Flats.”

The neighborhood spent about $55,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to repair the 18th Street steps in 2008, Palmisiano said.

A survey will determine which staircases will be fixed first, Palmisiano said. Steps parallel to Cologne Street and the Oakley Way steps near Josephine and 27th streets are good candidates for repair.

Interns in the city's Planning Department will conduct the survey, said Tim McNulty, spokesman for the mayor's office.

Pittsburgh has about 700 staircases with about 44,600 steps. This year, the city will spend about $98,000 to repair steps on Blanton Street in Greenfield and Round Top Street in Crafton Heights. Last year, the city spent about $100,000 to repair steps on Wenzell Avenue in Beechview.

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

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