Water Street Woes

Brent Finnegan -- June 26th, 2007

Although the Water Street parking deck is open, Mayor Eagle wants Graciano Corp of Pittsburgh to pay “late fees” of up to $80,000 for the delays. But frustration over the deck delays has been compounded by a continued communication issue with the city. Last summer, several downtown store owners were upset about the lack of communication about the construction on the Water Street parking deck. In August, TM wrote:

what the downtown merchants seemed to be irked about is that they didn’t receive timely notice that the deck would be closed. Baker relayed that the contractor is on a fixed time contract (meaning they’ll be penalized for going over time) and is on track for the Nov. 17th complete date.

Ten months later, not much has changed. Today the DNR story says:

In April, [Randy Shank of Shank’s Bakery] said, he received a notice from the city before that work was to resume. But businesses had to seek out any other information on the project, he said. “That has been a particular sore spot with me,” Shank said. “Businesses here were not kept informed as to when to expect changes.”

The delays are Graciano’s problem. Communication with residents and business owners is the city’s job.

It’s my understanding that the Farmers Market will remain in the municipal lot across from the DNR despite the open deck.

Of course, the one Water Street nuisance not mentioned in today’s article is the alleyway beside Finnigan’s Cove. Let’s do something about that. We were told in January that it would be fixed by now. It’s been closed for almost 16 months now. Get it done.

17 Responses to “Water Street Woes”

  1. Del Marvel says:

    My question is what the heck are they doing to that parking deck anyway that’s taking so long and how bad could it have been before they started? It seemed fine to me.

  2. David Miller says:

    Below is a “Letter to the Editor” that I wrote this morning after reading the DNR (I admit that I actually opened a copy and read it!) I thought that this might be a better place for such a letter.

    Mr. Shank’s woes are understandable. The woes of all businesses affected are unfortunate. The woes are obvious for anyone using the deck. My question is why is anyone mad at the city? Why blame the city for doing work that left undone would require the entire deck to be demolished. We receive free parking for our customers at the expense of the taxpayer, let’s complain! No, instead I’d love to see the company sued for every dollar above and beyond the cost of materials for the project.

    Mr. Shank was quoted as saying “The City gave businesses little information about the work”, this I can vouch for. In the beginning, if you didn’t read the paper for press releases by the city (standard practice for city work) then you might not have known about the pending work (maybe the DNR would like to accept responsibility for not doing investigative reporting about this, prior to the beginning of construction. Hell, the city sent them press releases regarding it, and even they act surprised in their “reporting”). The city had postponed the work for over five years and then decided it was fiscally responsible to act before the structure was beyond repair and the material costs rose further. They published the pending work in the DNR and proceeded. I as a downtown merchant, balked at the work because I was uninformed about it. I inquired and learned the above information. I then decided that we needed more advanced notice than is usually provided for projects like this one. Requesting such information got results. The city placed HDR at the helm of information dissemination (or they took the helm, I forget which). Either way, the flow of info improved and Shank’s Bakery has a brand new parking lot at no charge to them and their customers (aside from the standard tax rates).

    As for the Farmer’s Market, they are quoted as saying (by the DNR) that they prefer their new location. They are not suffering for it. They are currently accepting donations to build a pavilion to make their new home permanent.

    In closing, I’d like to thank the DNR for pointing out its own inadequacies in improving public awareness. Cheers Jeff Melot, well said.

  3. Del Marvel says:

    You seem to be up on what’s going on, David. What ARE they doing to the deck, anyway? Maybe I missed it in the paper. As far as the bottom of the deck, from the point of view of a casual observer it seems like they’re just doing some kind of resurfacing and taking quite a long time doing it. How could failing to do this have neccesitated demolishing the entire structure?

  4. Frank Witt says:

    from today’s fishwrap…the saga continues~

    Potential contractors who have studied the project also have estimated it could take five to six months to complete, Baker said.

    The city’s selection of Lane Construction, Baker said, had a lot to do with the potential contractor’s assertion the firm could finish the job in 60 days.

    ~seems to be severely different views and time tables…

    AND Finnegans has to spend more of its money to instal another door to keep business alive. Did this problem with the bridge happen “naturally” if so some of the costs ie. loss of business, food disposal, MAY be covered under their business insurance.

    Just something to look at to help offset this continued mess.

  5. finnegan says:

    I’ll believe the fixed alleyway when I see it.

  6. David Miller says:

    Del,
    The repairs to the deck (as i have understood them, I am in no way associated with the city) were necessary because the connections between the concrete beams that make up the upper deck were corroded beyond patching (as had been done in the past). The technique for rehabilitation then was to strip away the old connections (some sort of expandable surface, like really tough rubber or something). Following the stripping, the joints were then to be replaced with new material. This unfortunately was the problem. The reason work stopped last winter was because the new joints cannot be applied to frozen concrete.
    To me it seemed that the contractor did not hire nearly enough people to complete the work in any reasonable time frame. Any contractor should have realized that come winter, they’d have to stop. This particular one must have. That’s why I’m pissed. My guess is, that they tried to save money by not hiring enough people (therefore increasing their take on the contract).

    Second, Bottom Deck: The reason for the bottom deck closures (aside from two weeks of actual resurfacing) was to prevent injury and property damage from the falling debris, sandblasting and washing during the work on the upper level. I personally don’t relish the thought of concrete debris coming down on me or my car.

    I hope that this helps, but please remember that most of this is collected information that may be as true as I believe it to be, or my memory could be failing me at an early age.

  7. David Miller says:

    Frank

    According to persons that have inspected the problem with the alley. The foundation that is holding both the Spanky’s and Roger Ritchie (which includes Finnegan’s) buildings, are massively corroded. One account mentioned that a human leg would fit through the corrosion on support beams. So you have two buildings (one which is now condemned because of this) that are resting on faulty support beams that are planted in a waterway.

    I’m all for fixing the alley. My only concern is that my taxpayer dollars are going to be spent to fix private property. All this and I don’t even consider myself a fiscal conservative :)

    Ohh well, I too do not like walking around.

    Last talking point, may I suggest that Roger Ritchie should pay for a new door for Finnegan’s since it’s his building, his tenant and his structural problem (isn’t’ it?)!

  8. I guess it is his problem then. I’m just another under-informed man offering, what I consider, help.

    Thanks for the updates…

  9. David Miller says:

    Unclefrank

    We’re all under-informed in one way or another, hence the beauty of the blog. Conglomeration of information!

  10. TM says:

    Speaking of downtown, I noticed today that the light is back up at Bruce and 11N. Woo hoo!

  11. Benjamin says:

    David

    All of your information is correct regarding the parking deck. The work had been planned for the last several years and didn’t get approved by council until last summer. They started work immediately after the funds were cleared. I know that one of the major reasons for was water dripping from the upper deck to the lower deck and freezing. I believe (and may be incorrect) that a few people slipped on the ice last winter which created a potential liability issue with for the city. They also improved the lighting.

    As for the sidewalk, I live on that block and have to walk around everyday. It sucks, but I agree that the city shouldn’t be paying for improvements to private property, unless bill the land owner for the expenses.

  12. Del Marvel says:

    “I believe (and may be incorrect) that a few people slipped on the ice last winter which created a potential liability issue with for the city.”

    This would explain the report I heard from one downtown merchant that they were merely evening out the surface because someone had tripped on a rough patch. Thanks for the info, David and Benjamin. This makes me a little more tolerant of the work.

  13. And why is the light back?

    That was an easier way to get thru town.

  14. David Miller says:

    Unclefrank
    The light being gone was caused by an accident that “took it out”. in other words, the light got “whacked”. Everyone cheered because they thought that it would smooth traffic and make things better. Turns out they were wrong. Traffic was impossible to cross during rush hours, two or three accidents occurred at the intersection and getting out of both the Library parking lot (commonly referred to as the Dave’s lot, although this tends to infuriate the library patrons) is impossible.

    Benjamin

    Thanks for affirmation of the facts. It’s nice to know that my memory is still serving me well. The one plus side to the walkway being closed is that everyone must walk past Midtowne Market. :)

  15. David, I just thought they removed it for the heck of it. Thanks for the info. Must be CRAZY downtown during let in/ let out time. I cruise by at 8pm so it’s mostly slower but we do cross Water adn 11 carefully. We have seen people run that light so far 3 times this year. I’m glad people are forced to walk by the store. Put up a toll booth and charge them for it!

  16. Benjamin says:

    I was asking around yesterday about that traffic signal, and from what I gather every year they do an evaluation of city intersections to determine if any changes need to be made. For the intersection of Bruce and Main, enough of the criteria was met (multiple accidents) for the signal to be reinstalled. It does add an extra minute or so to my commute everyday, but if it is justifiable, I’ll try to refrain from complaining. Try.

    Midtowne rocks.

  17. Del Marvel says:

    They need a light at that intersection during rush hour. You’ll still be able to make a left on red onto mainstreet.

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