Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials have submitted a request to U.S. Senator Arlen Specter’s office for $1.3 million in federal assistance this year, and another $27 million in the future, to build new streets and infrastructure on the land currently occupied by the Mellon Arena.
The funds would restore a grid pattern similar to the one that existed before the arena was built, (ee pictures below) with the goal of making it easier to attract new development to the 28-acre parcel. Sen. Specter says he thinks he can get the request through the Transportation Committee or the Urban Redevelopment committee.
He says it is a reasonably-sized request and it has all the earmarks of projects that congress is focusing on these days. “We are talking about stimulus back in Washington. We’re talking about putting people back to work, we’re talking about infrastructure, we’re talking about long term projects that will last,” says Specter.
The city and county will also be looking at state funds to finish the work. Not only is the move being pushed as an economic development tool for the land on which the arena sits, it is also being touted as a way to reconnect the Hill District with downtown.
Councilman Daniel Lavelle represents the Hill and says this is “imperative” for the hill and a “dream come true.” He says it will also help to link downtown with Oakland. County and city officials have long noted that those two areas of the city need to be better connected logistically. If the Golden Triangle and Oakland were stand-alone cities they would represent the number two and number three economic centers in the state.