Business owners' joy tempered by lack of T service on Stanwix
Back together again.
Port Authority of Allegheny County yesterday reopened a section of Stanwix Street, Downtown, that closed two years ago because of the $523.4 million North Shore Connector project.
"This reunifies our Golden Triangle," Allegheny Conference on Community Development spokeswoman Catherine DeLoughry said of the street's reopening. The conference moved near the closed section a month ago, relocating to the former Westinghouse Electric Corp. headquarters at 11 Stanwix St.
DeLoughry said the closure created a barrier between the estimated $4.5 billion in public and private investment in Downtown in recent years.
"Some of it was on one side, some of it was on the other. This (reopening) brings it all together," she said.
Stanwix runs the width of the triangle between Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt boulevards. It closed between Penn and Liberty avenues as Port Authority crews performed work related to the North Shore Connector project, including demolition of the former Gateway Station and construction of another one underground.
The 1.2-mile extension of the T light-rail system to the North Shore is expected to begin operating in March 2012.
Stanwix's closure, along with other traffic restrictions related to the transit project and the $5 million makeover of Market Square completed in August, created long-term headaches for businesses and motorists in the heart of Downtown. It forced some major Downtown events, such as Light Up Night, to relocate.
Some people's excitement over the street reopening was tempered by the fact that it will be 14 months until T service returns to the area.
"The T being closed hurts our business," said Tyler Dzadovsky, assistant general manager of Gold's Gym at Forbes Avenue and Stanwix. He said many Downtown workers relied on the system to get to and from the gym quickly during lunch hours.
"It made things difficult," said Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership spokeswoman Hollie Geitner of the construction activity.
"But we believe all the work will have a significant impact going forward. The barrier between one section of Downtown to the other is gone, and the North Shore Connector, when it opens, will create a very convenient connection from Downtown to the North Shore and vice versa," Geitner said.
The section of Stanwix reopened a day earlier than planned.
"We thought the weather might be too much of an obstacle (Friday)," said spokesman Jim Ritchie, before snow started falling heavily yesterday.
Ritchie said lane closures or other restrictions could occur sporadically in the area through the end of the year as contractors complete the station.