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Four red line T stops will get an accessibility overhaul

Heather McClain

On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced $28.4 million for Pittsburgh Regional Transit that will be used to make four stops along the T’s red line accessible. The money comes from a new federal program, All Stations Accessible Program, or ASAP, that aims to make all rail lines accessible.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit will overhaul the Westfield and Shiras stops in Beechview, the St. Anne stop in Castle Shannon, and the Bethel Village stop in Bethel Park. All were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990.

“This funding will allow us to redesign and construct new stations that can be used by all,” PRT spokesperson Adam Brandolph wrote in an email.

The improvements will include ramps, higher platforms, and shelters.

The infrastructure bill signed into law last year included $1.75 billion for ASAP over the next five years. Tuesday’s announcement of $686 million went to 15 projects in nine states. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said it’s long overdue.

“People with disabilities spend far more time and spend far more money just to go about their lives,” he said. “Transit is designed to be the great connector, but only if you can physically get aboard is that actually possible.”

He said funding accessibility improvements for people who face the biggest barriers means “you’ve helped to find solutions for everyone else, too,” such as parents with strollers, musicians with instruments, and noted that “any American may age into a disability.”

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth championed the program, and said there’s a long way to go to make the country truly accessible.

“I know the people who run our transit systems don't want to exclude folks like me who rely on wheelchairs or canes or walking sticks,” she said. “But the funding just hasn't been there for stations to make the improvements necessary.”

PRT officials said the total cost to overhaul the four red line stations is $35.5 million; PennDOT will contribute $6.9 million, and Allegheny County will cover $230,000. The agency expects to begin “scoping out the project next year,” Brandolph said.

On the other side of the state, SEPTA received $56 million to upgrade stations along its Broad Street line and Market-Frankford line.