Pittsburgh to begin work on Banksville Road intersection with Wenzell, Carnahan

One of the busiest intersections in Pittsburgh’s South Hills will get a long-awaited, year-long makeover beginning Saturday, when Banksville Road closes at Carnahan Road and Banksville Avenue in Banksville.

It’s the first phase of a $2.8 million project that also will improve the approach to Banksville Road from Wenzell Avenue, directly across the intersection from Carnahan.

Pittsburgh Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who represents the district, said Wednesday that one of the first community meetings she attended shortly after taking office in 2009 involved developing plans to improve the intersection. But the complicated project has taken so long because it required the city to acquire several properties and included lobbying for federal funds to pay for $2.24 million of the work.

The first phase will involve closing the Carnahan Road connection with Banksville Road on Saturday to begin replacing the small bridge just off the intersection. That is one of the main access roads to the Banksville neighborhood.

The new bridge will be wider to provide a better turning radius and to make it two lanes approaching Banksville Road so traffic doesn’t have to wait for motorists making left turns.

Other work on that side of the road will include improving drainage along Banksville Avenue, a street parallel to Banksville Road that also will be closed for drainage improvements in the flood-prone area, said Patrick Bopp, project manager for the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. 

When that side of the road is done in April, work will switch to Wenzell Avenue, a primary access to the Beechview neighborhood. Allison Park Contractors also will widen Wenzell to provide two lanes approaching Banksville, replace the steps beside the Rite Aid drugstore and improve drainage.

The project also will include paving on Carnahan, Banksville Avenue and Wenzell and new traffic signals at the intersection.

Ms. Kail-Smith said the project is designed to improve safety and reduce congestion, since both side streets are used as shortcuts to get to the inbound Parkway West via Banksville Road.

“We always are concerned about the disruption a project like this has in a neighborhood,” Ms. Kail-Smith said. “The residents have had a lot of input in this project over the years, so they know it’s coming.

“Overall, the benefit outweighs the temporary inconvenience.”

Kim Salinetro, head of the Banksville Civic Association and a member of Ms. Kail-Smith’s staff, said the improvements will provide “a more efficient way” to move traffic on both Wenzell and Banksville avenues.The changes are particularly important on Banksville Avenue, she said.

“It looks like an alley, but there are businesses that need to be able to get back there,” she said.

The work should be finished by November. 

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