Residents increase calls for traffic safety measures
By Ziggy Edwards and Ray Gerard for Junction Coalition
On Aug. 16, a car struck 12-year-old Cameron Grimes as he and his sister began to cross Greenfield Avenue on their way home from Magee Playground.
Cameron’s mother, Leah Pugh, said during an Aug. 17 phone call that he has a fractured arm and abrasions all over his body – including damage to his ear that will require surgery.
“Other than that, he’s OK,” she said.
Witnessing the accident had shaken Cameron’s 11-year-old sister Camella, but she was doing better at the time of our interview.
Neighborhood residents have been pleading with city officials for decades to address dangerous traffic patterns along Greenfield Avenue. In July, the Greenfield School Parent-Teacher Organization and the Greenfield Community Association co-sponsored a petition calling on Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) to make Greenfield Avenue safer.
An accident years in the making
Greenfield School PTO secretary Marianne Holohan, who helped draft the petition, said an accident like this is exactly what she was afraid of.
The petition specifically names the part of Greenfield Avenue where Cameron was hit, noting that kids and seniors cross at its intersection with McCaslin Street to visit Magee Rec Center. It also points out the stretch between Kaercher and Irvine/Saline streets, where despite a high number of crashes, no traffic safety measures have been put in place.
When Mayor Ed Gainey held a community meeting in Greenfield on Jan. 14, attendees identified conditions along Greenfield Avenue as their top concern. Mayor Gainey thanked the residents for sharing their needs and encouraged them to “be aggressive” in communicating with his office going forward.
According to DOMI, Greenfield Avenue qualifies for Pittsburgh’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming program. But it still has not been funded for traffic-calming improvements despite ongoing requests from residents and this year’s formal budget request from the Greenfield Community Association. At a July 2022 meeting about the replacement of Swinburne Bridge, DOMI project manager Zachary Workman told residents that any changes to Greenfield Avenue would have to wait until construction of the new bridge is complete in 2026 or later.
“It’s definitely something that’s on DOMI’s radar for improvements in the future but it’s in the long-range plan as resources become available,” he said.
“Outside of projects in affluent East End neighborhoods, DOMI only seems to install traffic calming after someone has been hurt or killed,” Ms. Holohan commented in an Aug. 17 text. “We should not have to sacrifice our children for basic public safety.”
“That could be any kid”
Ms. Pugh stressed the importance of better traffic control on Greenfield Avenue, saying that what happened to her son isn’t unique. She works in Hazelwood and knew Jamel Austin, the Glen Hazel 6-year-old who died on Johnston Avenue last July 26 after a car hit him while he rode his bike in the street.
She was aware of Glen Hazel’s successful efforts to get traffic-calming measures on Johnston Avenue and around the neighborhood schools after Jamel’s tragic death. But she said that before Cameron’s accident she was not aware that Greenfield residents were also lobbying for traffic calming. Now, she said, she wants to bring as much attention to the problem as possible.
Ms. Pugh said she wants Mayor Gainey and the public to understand that Cameron’s accident could have happened to any child because Magee Playground is for every child.
“So, in a sense, my son is everyone’s son. Many have and will cross this same street that cars will continue to speed through. Clearly, that is [the] root and reason for the petitions and pleas to the mayor,” she said. “How much more effort is needed for basic residential safety?”
To sign the Keep Kids Safe with Traffic Calming on Greenfield Ave! petition and add your comments, visit https://forms.gle/CAFP9yHbshzM7Yfg9 or scan the QR code below.
Junction Coalition is a grassroots advocacy group comprising residents of Four Mile Run and surrounding communities.