Updated: Aug 31, 2022
By Junction Coalition
A car rests on its side after a June 23 wreck on Greenfield Avenue. Photo courtesy of Will Smith
The Mon-Oakland Connector shuttle road has been canceled. But infrastructure projects linking Oakland to Hazelwood Green keep moving forward as Hazelwood, Greenfield and Four Mile Run residents’ pleas for safer roads go unanswered.
Along Hazelwood and Greenfield avenues, the skewed priorities have become impossible to ignore after two serious car accidents in the past two months.
Flipped car on Greenfield Avenue
On June 23, Greenfield Avenue resident Will Smith heard a loud noise. He said during a July 5 phone call that he looked out his front window and saw a car on its side in the middle of the street.
Mr. Smith rushed outside. The car’s roof was crushed. A man and two women were checking on the trapped driver. Police closed the block to traffic. Within 15 minutes, firefighters arrived to rescue the driver from his car using Jaws of Life.
Mr. Smith said, “This was inevitable.” He described frequent speeding on the lower portion of Greenfield Avenue.
Mr. Smith and his neighbors received $114 citations on May 9 for having their wheels on the curb, a common practice along Greenfield Avenue and other narrow streets where residents try to protect their vehicles from speeding drivers. Residents must park on the downhill side of Greenfield Avenue and cross through swiftly-moving traffic to their houses. One recent hit-and-run on the block totaled the parked car of a resident who is also a city employee.
“The city needs to do something to make drivers slow down and pay attention,” Mr. Smith said.
Multi-vehicle crash on Hazelwood Avenue
Residents along Hazelwood Avenue face similar dangers. On May 22, Kevin Dole witnessed the aftermath of an accident at Greenfield and Hazelwood avenues near his home. When we spoke by phone in June, he said several vehicles were involved—including his neighbor’s parked car, which was totaled. An ambulance transported one person away from the scene.
Mr. Dole said speeding is a constant hazard on Hazelwood Avenue. He guessed the average speeder travels 45-50 mph in the 25-mph zone.
Mr. Dole’s neighbor, Abby Zupancic, suffered a broken neck and other severe injuries in a 2016 accident outside his house.
He said during a July phone call he was hit while walking around the front of his car to fold in his passenger-side mirror in. He underwent emergency surgery and a grueling recovery process. Although he still deals with chronic pain, Mr. Zupancic was eventually able to return to work.
Having lived on Hazelwood Avenue for 18 years, he said he sees dangerous speeding daily—including two accidents involving a flipped car, "which tells you how fast they had to be going,” he said.
Conditions are no better at the other end of the street near Second Avenue, where Reverend Michael Murray has lived for 26 years. During a July phone call, Rev. Murray said he’s noticed an increase in speeding and oversized trucks, some so heavy they shake his house as they pass. He has lost three mirrors from sideswipes of his parked vehicle. He worries that problems will get even worse as construction on Hazelwood Green picks up.
But residents on both streets said years of 311 calls and direct appeals to City officials have changed nothing.
Qualified but not prioritized for traffic-calming
Greenfield resident and Greenfield Community Association (GCA) board member Catherine Adams copied the GCA Development and Transportation Committee—and District 5 City Councilman Corey O’Connor’s chief of staff Matt Singer—on email correspondence with representatives of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI).
A May 5 reply from Cortney Patterson of the DOMI Traffic Bureau referenced application(s) for the Neighborhood Traffic Calming program. “Your street does meet the Neighborhood Traffic Calming requirements, however, this project did not rank high enough to be funded for construction this year.”
Ms. Adams replied on May 13, and followed up twice more in May and June, but received no response.
What was funded for construction this year are several projects to improve access to Hazelwood Green, such as widening Greenfield Avenue at Irvine/Second avenues and Saline Street, rebuilding Swinburne Bridge and the Sylvan Avenue Multimodal Project. None of these projects resulted from community demand.
Dan Yablonsky, director of communications and development at Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT), commented in a July 11 email, “We see time and time again that the city ends up spending money on infrastructure projects to benefit the developers at Hazelwood Green instead of the people who have called these neighborhoods home.”
PPT worked with MOC-affected communities to create Our Money, Our Solutions, an alternative plan listing needed improvements including traffic-calming on Hazelwood and Greenfield avenues.
“Residents have done the work to make it clear what investments benefit the community,” Mr. Yablonsky said. “It's up to the city now to follow their lead.”
You can read the full article at www.junctioncoalition.org/2022/07/10/car-wrecks-on-greenfield-and-hazelwood-avenues-highlight-need-for-traffic-calming/.