East Liberty Circulation and Mobility Action Plan
East Liberty, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, has seen major urban transformations since the mid-twentieth century. It was settled as a walkable neighborhood with short blocks, a continuous street grid, a commercial district, and good transit service. As the city lost businesses and residents to the suburbs in the 1960’s, the neighborhood experienced decline. It was inadvertently precipitated by a major urban renewal project that disrupted streets to create a highway-like ring road around the business district, destroyed over a thousand buildings to create large parking lots, and replaced hundreds of houses with subsidized high-rise apartment buildings. Forty years of disinvestment left the neighborhood with high rates of vacancy, neglect, and crime.
Beginning with the Community Plan in 1999, East Liberty has been engaged in a multi-faceted community development effort, which has involved ongoing community-based planning. East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI), its non-profit community development organization, has worked with the local Chamber of Commerce and other community partners to bring back businesses, build mixed-income housing, and improve community amenities. Depressed property values have risen and crime rates have fallen. Private developers have started to invest in new commercial, residential, and mixed-use projects.
With the marked increase in commercial activities and residential population, traffic and parking issues are becoming more critical. In fact, those issues are the highest priority of the community’s ongoing concerns for good circulation and mobility, which have been discussed since the planning process began in 1999. The most recent community plan update in 2011 reinforced the importance of safe and effective access throughout the neighborhood. Accordingly, East Liberty Development Inc. engaged the Remaking Cities Institute from Carnegie Mellon University (RCI) to study walkability and accessibility and Walker Parking Consultants to study parking, focusing primarily on the business district in East Liberty.