Project to connect 3 Pittsburgh neighborhoods getting underway

Connecting communities — that’s the goal of a project that just got a major financial boost. The vision is to put a park near the intersection of Penn Avenue and Shady Avenue, add a pedestrian bridge to the transit station, and bridge the divide between Larimer, East Liberty and Shadyside.

“I’m very happy,” said Lorraine Wells. “They should have done this a long time ago.”

Lorraine Wells is from the Homewood area but visits East Liberty frequently.

“I remember how this whole area used to be,” Wells said. “I know for the traffic and the public transportation. Walking. It’s a lot, and it’s very hard for people to get around.”

“There’s a missing connection here, and what that connection is, is for people who live in the Larimer and East Liberty communities who don’t have access to the transit center,” said Todd Reidbord, Walnut Capital president.

That’s where the Penn Avenue CAP Connector Project comes into play.

“This is the first phase of the project that we’ve been talking about for many years,” Reidbord said. “It gives us the opportunity to do the planning, engineering and studies that are necessary to make this project a reality.”

Walnut Capital just got a $2 million grant to begin the planning phase of this latest project. The money is coming from a federal initiative aimed at connecting communities.

“The next phase and the next opportunity is to connect even more communities,” said Reidbord. “Historically the rail line that’s come through this area has cut off communities. So there’s investment on one side of the track and generally disinvestment on the other side.”

“It will make it so much easier for pedestrians to cross over from Larimer into East Liberty, where the vast majority of the commerce is happening, as well as one of the largest transit hubs in western Pennsylvania and not have to walk all around the Target but come all the way around East Liberty Boulevard will shorten that commute,” said City Councilman Khari Mosley. “And again connect communities that have been left behind and ensure all the neighborhoods in the East End share in prosperity.”

We’re talking about the area between Target and Trader Joes. Most of the work will happen near the intersection of Penn and Shady Avenues. The development also includes more affordable housing.

“Folks from various income levels will be able to benefit in this new development,” Mosley said. “It’s going to be much more pedestrian-oriented as opposed to this very suburban-style mall development that we’re in right now that dates back to the early 70s, 80s. It’s going to be very modern. Biking. Walking. A whole variety of transportation will be supported here.”

“It’s always been a big issue right here,” Wells said. “So I am very happy they’re going to be making the change for this specific area.”

A lot of meetings will be happening. Many of them are going to involve community input. No dates have been set just yet. The planning phase is expected to take more than a year.

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