The DPW’s organizational focus for the NSSE was to provide all support necessary to have a successful and secure event while working to ensure the best possible transportation flow in and around the downtown and surrounding areas impacted by the NSSE. This remained the focus before, during, and after the NSSE.
Due to the unique design of the downtown road system, which is a triangular grid system, the City of Pittsburgh had to establish additional closures outside of the USSS’s “hard perimeter.” The USSS designates a specified area as a hard perimeter based on factors that contribute to the safety and security of the event. Highly trained members of the USSS determine the location of these perimeters, examining issues such as blast zones, points of vulnerability, ingress and egress routes, and many other factors. A hard perimeter consists of materials and equipment that provide the level of security and safety necessary for the event. This can consist of concrete barricades, secure vehicle access points, fencing, metal detectors, and heavy equipment among other resources. The hard perimeter closes off both pedestrian and vehicular traffic inside the restricted area unless the individual and/or vehicle have the appropriate credentials to gain access. While local law enforcement could not share specific information concerning the venue footprint (the area closed off specifically for the NSSE), the USSS established a hard perimeter with strict access control for the protection and security of the President, world leaders, and other dignitaries involved in the NSSE. Any businesses in the hard perimeter closed, and the USSS restricted vehicles and pedestrians from entering the area.
Because of the hard perimeter, the City of Pittsburgh’s traffic engineers had to design a traffic management plan that extended beyond the perimeter and provided logical closures, or a “soft perimeter,” to support the flow of traffic around the venue. The USSS and local law enforcement designate an area outside the hard perimeter as a soft perimeter. There may be some flexibility when establishing the soft perimeter. For example, transportation planners assessing the impact to transportation in the venue area may choose to close additional roadways to establish traffic patterns that allow for logical transportation flow around the venue. This can be especially important in jurisdictions where the NSSE affects one-way roads. This may mean extending the soft perimeter.
The devices used to define a soft perimeter vary. Because the perimeter is soft, it does not limit access the same as the hard perimeter. As such, the soft perimeter may use standard traffic control devices in conjunction with law enforcement support to control access. For the G-20 Summit, the soft perimeter allowed pedestrian traffic as well as public transportation (i.e., buses, taxis, and functional needs transportation services) to enter through checkpoints. This access through the soft perimeter enabled businesses outside the hard perimeter to remain open to the public. Additionally, while there was no edict for the DPW to keep the city open for business as usual, the DPW made every effort to provide the best access possible to residents, visitors, and businesses during the NSSE.
Figure 3-4 shows the restricted areas designated by the USSS for the G-20 Summit. The green-shaded area represents the hard perimeter, and the red-shaded area represents the soft perimeter. The map also highlights access points for pedestrians. The limited number of access points (two) in Figure 3-4 and their designation as “Pedestrian Access Checkpoints” suggest that meeting attendees with the proper credentials may have used these access points. Events such as the World Bank Meetings have used this type of access.
Prior to the NSSE, PennDOT officials received training at the NSSE command center on specific software for communication purposes during the G-20 Summit. Transportation personnel working in other operations centers participated in several meetings before the G-20 Summit that shared information pertinent to the NSSE for which the USSS required security clearances. The USSS handled all background checks for these transportation personnel. While not specifically an exercise, these USSS-led walkthroughs educated other organizations involved in the NSSE that were not as familiar with how an NSSE unfolds. The clearance process provided cleared individuals with access to locations or information otherwise restricted before and/or during the event. For example, restricted information may include the schedule for the movement of dignitaries to or from the venue location. The USSS will instruct cleared individuals on the permissible information to share with their home organizations. Such information allows those individuals to assist with their organizations’ NSSE planning and deployment.
The City of Pittsburgh DPW transportation staff were not included in any test, training, or tabletop exercises (TTX) for the G-20 Summit. However, training exercises included DPW staff assigned to work during the NSSE or at the EOC. City officials were also aware that law enforcement participated in TTX. The DPW commented that no additional training was required for its role. Those individuals who worked at the city EOC were already trained on the software packages available to support incident and emergency operations.
No special transportation equipment or supplies were necessary to support the NSSE; however, it did require greater quantities of standard equipment and supplies routinely used by transportation departments. The City of Pittsburgh DPW reported minimal use of its TMC. The DPW did not add any hours to the center because representatives were present in the City of Pittsburgh Emergency Management/Homeland Security Agency EOC. In contrast, the PennDOT TMC requested extra staff.
As part of its overall support to the NSSE, PennDOT provided vehicles, barrels, arrow boards, dynamic message signs (DMS), highway advisory radio, CCTV cameras, and signs to close off the ramps to and from the Interstate highways in use and/or affected by the events underway in and around the City of Pittsburgh. In addition, PennDOT provided concrete barriers and large trucks, as requested by the USSS and state police, to help protect the convention center hard perimeter area.
The City of Pittsburgh DPW worked closely with state, county, and surrounding jurisdictions to secure additional resources to supplement their own inventories. The equipment such as barrier walls and other equipment for closures were pre-positioned. In addition, the NSSE had prepositioned cleaning equipment and personnel from the appropriate section of Public Works to effectively perform their duties or respond quickly to requests to the operations centers for service.
As discussed in previous sections, each department/agency handled additional personnel needs. Law enforcement requested resources from across the state. Transportation agencies used their existing personnel but increased their work hours.
The USSS required credentials for access into areas such as the hard perimeter and operations centers. The Pittsburgh Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security and the USSS coordinated this process. Designated transportation personnel were among those requiring credentialing and vetting by the USSS as necessary for their work location. DPW personnel had access into the hard perimeter, although they were located just on the outside edges of the hard perimeter. The credentialing allowed the DPW to provide immediate support if adjustments or changes to the barricades were necessary.
In addition to their onsite field requirements, DPW staff helped support the city EOC. This presence was necessary because all transportation information and requests concerning the DPW went through the EOC. In addition, all other city departments and agencies were present in the EOC. The EOC shifts ran continuously for monitoring the NSSE.
A City DPW official interviewed for this case study noted that while existing staffing levels were adequate for the NSSE with staff working overtime hours, PennDOT provided valuable assistance by placing resources for NSSE-related events held in Oakland. This support came in the form of personnel, barriers, and closures.
As the NSSE drew near, the City of Pittsburgh DPW devoted many hours, including overtime hours, to conducting clean-up operations, bolting down trash cans, and removing items such as newspaper racks and street furniture. The NSSE used a large amount of barrier wall and bike fencing, which only the DPW could set up.
With the G-20 Summit set to meet at the end of the business week, implementation of the traffic control plan in the downtown area occurred the night before the delegates arrived. Business owners indicated that they were not necessarily pleased with all of the closures downtown, but they understood that this was necessary having known well in advance about the NSSE.
At the federal level, the USCG conducted bridge inspections prior to the NSSE and patrolled the rivers during the NSSE. All boats were ordered off the river in proximity to the venue, and this clearance of the area was strictly enforced. The City of Pittsburgh has some jurisdiction concerning the rivers since it can enforce city regulations on river craft tied to the dock and to the ground. However, with all boats ordered out of the area, this was not a concern.
PennDOT had mobile teams available to set up, troubleshoot, and break down resources as needed. These personnel consisted of PennDOT maintenance staff teams established to specifically perform many of the closures required for the Interstate highway.In the downtown area, the City of Pittsburgh DPW received its traffic-related information from the police bureau officers in the field. The DPW representative in the EOC and the police officers in the field communicated and handled Information concerning traffic conditions and situations.
United States Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration
Last Modified: September 21, 2020