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September 17, 2009

Oakland braces for G-20 Summit week

University administrators continue to await word from the Secret Service on security restrictions in Oakland surrounding a Sept. 24 dinner for G-20 dignitaries at Phipps Conservatory.

Until a security zone is announced, the University cannot decide on possible building closings or class cancellations, said Vice Chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations Renny Clark.

Administrators at Pitt and CMU have announced they plan to continue university operations as normally as possible during the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit.

Clark said information would be disseminated via the University’s web site at and/or through printed announcements distributed on campus.

While much remains uncertain, some security and transportation information is emerging as the Sept. 24 and 25 summit approaches.


Police in Oakland will begin working longer hours prior to the summit.

City police will begin 12-hour shifts on Sunday; Carnegie Mellon police will start 12-hour shifts on Monday and Pitt police will do the same beginning on Tuesday. Pitt Police Commander Francis J. Walsh told a Sept. 15 Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID) meeting that the University’s police department would have about 65 officers on duty with an additional 100 city and state police assigned to Oakland Sept. 22-25. He wouldn’t specify how many would be plainclothes or in uniform. “That’s part of the operation,” he said, adding only that there would be a visible police presence.

In addition, Secret Service, FBI and other federal authorities as well as the National Guard will be on hand to provide security for the event and the Oakland community can expect to see helicopters and planes as part of the security presence.


According to the Port Authority, bus and T service into Downtown will operate on a regular weekday schedule during the summit, but routes will be altered and potentially lengthy delays are expected.

All Downtown T stations except for First Avenue will be closed and buses will be rerouted to avoid the convention center security zone. Most bus routes will use or connect to the Boulevard of the Allies corridor.

The Port Authority plans to implement the G-20 routing the evening of Sept. 23 and keep it in place through the summit’s end on Sept. 25.

“However, it is possible that detouring could begin earlier or end later,” the transit authority stated in a Sept. 15 release.

In addition, the Port Authority cautioned that sudden events or disruptions could cause additional rerouting. Updates will be disseminated on the Port Authority’s G-20 web page, through contacts with schools and major employers, and via Twitter.

To view bus and T route changes, visit the G-20 page at

Driving Downtown

Downtown traffic restrictions will begin at midnight, Wednesday, Sept. 23 and continue until the evening of Friday, Sept. 25.

Residents who show a Downtown address on their driver’s license may drive in Downtown. Cabs, hotel shuttles and delivery vehicles will be accommodated, although commercial deliveries will be limited to the early morning hours.

Permitted vehicles must enter the central business district at one of three designated locations: the Smithfield Street Bridge at West Carson Street; Fifth Avenue at Ross Street and the Roberto Clemente Bridge at Isabella Street.

Pedestrians and bicyclists traveling outside the Secret Service security perimeter will not be governed by the vehicle restrictions.

In addition, temporary traffic closures will take place Sept. 24 and 25 around the Warhol Museum on the North Shore, Phipps Conservatory in Oakland and the Heinz Farm in Fox Chapel, where G-20 events will be held. Details on those closings have yet to be announced by the Secret Service.

The transportation safety plan and other G-20 travel information is available at

Campus visits

The prospect of heavy traffic and booked-solid hotels has prompted Pitt’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to cancel its group information sessions for Sept. 23-25 and its Sept. 26 “Picture Yourself at Pitt” program on campus.

Oakland traffic concerns

•Monday, Sept. 21

There will be no parking on University Place to accommodate shuttle buses that will ferry credentialed media representatives and members of G-20 delegations on tours of selected Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and UPMC science and technology facilities.

Prior to the tours, Newsweek senior editor Howard Fineman will moderate an invitation only discussion at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in which Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon and UPMC President and CEO Jeffrey A. Romoff will address how the medical and education sectors are transforming the region’s economy.

• Tuesday, Sept. 22

An event unrelated to the G-20 is likely to offer a preview of traffic snarls to come as Microsoft chair Bill Gates dedicates two CMU buildings. CMU’s Lt. Gary Scheimer told OBID members the campus is expecting 5,000-8,000 people to arrive throughout the morning for the noon event.

• Thursday, Sept. 24

Frew Street on CMU’s campus will be a designated “sight and sound zone” for protesters surrounding Thursday’s heads of state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama at Phipps Conservatory.

“We don’t know how many people it’s going to draw,” said Scheimer, noting that there likely will be thousands of onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of the world leaders. “It’s going to cause a lot of congestion.” His best advice for drivers: “Monitor the news and leave yourself extra time.”

The Boulevard of the Allies will be closed Thursday evening as many workers are trying to leave Oakland, Scheimer said. The dinner at Phipps also will impact some CMU classroom buildings, which may need to be closed early.

At press time, Pitt administrators had not announced any similar closings.

• Friday, Sept. 25

The news for drivers and other commuters in Oakland isn’t good: “You can pretty much count Friday morning is going to be a huge traffic mess in Oakland,” Scheimer said.

The Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project is calling for coordinated actions ending at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 25 at 100 locations citywide.

Pitt’s three biomedical science towers are included on the list.

Other Oakland targets include McDonald’s, Starbucks, the U.S. Army recruiting station, American Apparel and United Check Cashing on Forbes Avenue; PNC bank branches, the Oakland Planning and Development Corp., Starbucks on Craig Street, Rand Corp. and CMU’s Mellon Institute, Software Engineering Institute and Robotics Institute.

Information is available at

At noon, the “People’s March to the Summit,” coordinated by the Thomas Merton Center, is expected to draw thousands. The event begins with a rally at the corner of Fifth and Craft avenues in Oakland. At 2 p.m., protesters plan to march down Fifth Avenue to Downtown.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 42 Issue 2

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