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Pickup zone aims to ease closing time traffic on East Carson Street |

Pickup zone aims to ease closing time traffic on East Carson Street

| Sunday, March 6, 2016 11:20 p.m
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
File photo of a police motorcycle along East Carson Street in the South Side on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.

Pittsburgh has created a public pickup zone in the 1700 block of East Carson Street on weekends in an attempt to ease closing time traffic congestion in the busy bar and restaurant district.

Parking is banned on the south side of East Carson between 17th and 18th streets from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The one-block section is reserved for taxis, ride-share companies and private individuals to pick up passengers.

“It’s a central location on that block where there’s really no bars on that side of the street,” said Jamie Campolongo, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Transportation Group, which operates Yellow and City cabs. “It gives us a central location so cabs don’t have to cruise up and down the street and cause more congestion.”

Pittsburgh police have ticketed and had vehicles towed from the block on recent weekends.

Bob McGann, a partner in McGann and Chester Towing of Brookline, said towing charges range from $110 to $140 depending on the vehicle. Drivers must produce a driver’s license and vehicle registration to prove they own the vehicle before it can be released, McGann said.

The East Carson pickup zone is part of a larger plan to improve the quality of life and reduce crime in one of the city’s busiest entertainment districts.

Police have also instituted “saturation” patrols, sending officers working overtime into the crowds between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. to deter rowdy behavior.

“We try to have between 12 and 15 officers,” said police Lt. Ed Cunningham, who heads the detail. “I’d like to have as many as 20 if I could, but I generally can’t get that many.”

On Saturday, police cited 19 people for such things as disorderly conduct and public intoxication and had seven cars towed from the pickup zone.

Revelers flood Carson Street when bars close at 2 a.m., triggering traffic gridlock when vehicles stop to pick them up. The city is considering creating a public safety lane that would prohibit parking along one side of Carson during peak periods to allow access for police and emergency vehicles.

Jonathan Growall, president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, said the public pickup zone can help ease congestion, but the city must do a better job of informing the public.

“I just became aware that they were doing it this week,” he said of the pickup zone. “I like the idea. It can help. It just has to be done properly with some notice.”

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or

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