Downtown Pittsburgh closure frustrates business owners

PITTSBURGH — A major stretch of roadway closed to traffic in downtown Pittsburgh Monday, and business owners and workers told us the construction comes as a shock.

“This is going to impact our business and the way we do our business and make money,” said Justin Husband, a cook at Giovanni’s on Sixth Street.

For four weeks, until Friday June 3, Penn Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic from Seventh Street to Fifth Avenue. Crews are replacing the broken and sunken brick crosswalks with stamped, colored concrete to emulate brick.

“It’s difficult,” said Christos Melacrinos, owner of Christos Mediterranean Grille.

Melacrinos and Husband both told us that the nearby Clemente Bridge closure has already hurt business, and now the Penn Avenue construction is an added blow.

“Nobody can get here, nobody’s saying ‘I’m gonna go for lunch real guick, let’s go park seven blocks away and walk down to Giovanni’s,’” Husband said. “People don’t do that, they want a quick lunch, they want to get in and out.”

Husband said that employees and delivery drivers are also struggling to find parking.

Bicyclists are still able to use the Penn Avenue cycle track but are being asked to dismount their bikes through the intersection of Sixth Street and walk along the sidewalk. They can then resume travel once out of the work zone. Pedestrians are also still able to walk through. According to the city, at least one sidewalk and crosswalk will remain open at all times.

One restauranteur told us she understands the work needs to get done, even if it will slow business.

The city suggests the following detours for drivers:

  • Penn Avenue inbound detour: Left on Seventh Street, right on Liberty Avenue, right on Stanwix Street, right on Fort Duquesne Boulevard
  • Sixth Street detour: From Fort Duquesne Boulevard, right onto Seventh Street, right onto Liberty Avenue
  • Parking Garage at 542 Penn Avenue detour: From Liberty Avenue, right on Fifth Avenue, right onto Penn Avenue—a counterflow lane will be maintained to allow access to the garage