In a community like Crafton, with 6,077 residents tightly packed into just more than 1.1 square miles on the hillsides around Pittsburgh, it’s no surprise the borough wants to treat public stairs the same as streets.

The seven sets of stairways are key connections for the community, providing access between residential streets and the town’s commercial area, a link to the Clearview Park Trail and a vertical pathway for school students to get to bus stops.

That’s why the borough will begin work this month to replace two sets of stairs, part of four that will receive updates this year. The borough has received two grants and, combined with local funds, expects to spend just over $600,000 on staircases this year.

“We really want to improve the walkability and accessibility of the town,” Jim Price, borough manager, said during a tour of public steps last week. “It just makes it a better place to live.”

Crews completed the first project, replacing the railing on steps between Belvidere Street and Afton Avenue, in March. Because the top and bottom of the stairs are on busy streets, where winter road salt can eat away at the base of steel rails, aluminum rails were installed this time.

Crafton’s longest set of public steps, between Promenade and Fountain streets, is scheduled for replacement this summer. (Ed Blazina/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Work on the borough’s longest set of steps, from Promenade Street to Fountain Street, should begin before the end of the month. It is a popular path because Fountain Street is close to Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s West Busway that connects with Downtown Pittsburgh and western suburbs, including Pittsburgh International Airport.

Also scheduled for a full replacement are stairs between Walnut Street and the Crafton Boulevard business district. These provide access to a Carlynton School District bus stop, Westwood Park and the Clearview Park Trail.

Price said the borough has had conversations with Pittsburgh Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith about extending the trail into the city’s West End.

Work on those projects will be done by contractor Fryer Excavating, which has a contract for just over $500,000.

Borough crews will put a skim coat of concrete and replace a step or two on a fourth set of steps from Barr Avenue to Alley A, which Price said is a less busy area.

To pay for the work, the borough received a $293,911 grant from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and $200,000 from Allegheny County’s Gaming Economic Development Tourism Fund. The borough also contributed $120,000.

Price said the borough is looking for funds to help pay for upgrades to three other stairways.

Larry Keenan, the borough’s engineer, cited the importance of the stairways in a news release announcing the project.

“If a street has a pothole, we fill it,” Keenan said. “If a public staircase needs improvements, we work to improve it. Both are important for our urban fabric.”

Crafton Borough Manager Jim Price looks at the deterioration of public steps between Walnut Street and Crafton Boulevard that are scheduled for replacement this summer. (Ed Blazina/Pittsburgh Union Progress)
Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at