Margaret J. Krauss

Development and Transportation Reporter

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA's development and transportation reporter. She previously worked for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide reporting initiative that covers problems facing Pennsylvania's cities and possible solutions. Before joining Keystone Crossroads, Margaret produced a 48-part radio series about Pittsburgh's lesser-known history, biking 2,000 miles around the region to do so.

Ways to Connect

Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Community can exist in any place where two or more humans gather. Port Authority operator Jill Smallwood sees it at rush hour, as she drives the P1 route from downtown Pittsburgh to Swissvale and back again.

As her bus gets crowded, Smallwood can’t see all the way to the back of the bus, so she’ll appeal to her riders, “Do we have any room in the back?” Most of the time, they make space for one more.

Google Maps

Second Avenue in Pittsburgh is a busy east-west roadway that takes travelers from Downtown through Uptown, past links to the South Side and Greenfield, and on through Hazelwood to the Glennwood Bridge. It’s an important route and fated to become even more critical due to developments planned along its length, such as the 178-acre Hazelwood Green site.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Construction on the Produce Terminal in Pittsburgh’s Strip District neighborhood is expected to begin in March. The work won approval from the board of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority Thursday.

Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

John Spellman is all about customer service. As the owner and operator of The Shady Dog, a lunch cart in Pittsburgh’s East End, Spellman says he’s learned a lot about who people are and how they operate. Perhaps most tangibly, Spellman has arranged his schedule to sidestep the Monday blues.

Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Modern existence requires a lot of signs: road signs, park signs, building signs, direction signs, special event signs. Plenty of signs could be ordered online, in this age of hyper-availability, but Allegheny County doesn’t outsource its written communication with the public; instead, the county runs its own sign shop.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has set a new course for its future, in which its customers can rely on clean, safe water and rarely ever think about the authority headquartered at 1200 Penn Avenue. 

Courtesy of Lawrenceville United

Like most American cities, Pittsburgh needs thousands more units of affordable housing, but federal and state money to build those homes continues to shrink.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

City officials will present an update on the project to renovate Smallman Street in Pittsburgh’s Strip District Wednesday night.

Tim Tierney / Wikimedia Commons

Pittsburgh officials continue to discuss how to balance development and protect housing affordability, while legislation to do so has lingered in city council for more than a year.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A federal grant may help municipalities in Allegheny County grapple with fallout from last year’s record rainfall and accompanying floods and landslides. However, the competition for funding is fierce, said Matt Brown, chief of Allegheny County Emergency Services.

“I don’t think that we’ll have a capacity to recover from a lot of the ... challenges that we have, but this is an opportunity that we don’t want to turn away from,” Brown said.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board on Monday voted to terminate its cooperation agreement with the City of Pittsburgh and negotiate a new one.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Friday he filed 161 criminal charges against the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority relating to partial lead line replacements the authority made between 2016 and 2017.

Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Jill Smallwood has operated a Port Authority bus for nearly five years and says the learning curve is pretty steep. She found out the hard way that there’s a lot to pay attention to, both inside and outside the bus. 

MV+A Architects / Used with permission from LG Realty Advisors

Developer LG Realty Advisors presented final plans for the first phase of work at the former Penn Plaza site to the Pittsburgh Planning Commission on Tuesday. The company intends to build more than 300,000 square feet of office and retail space in the first of two phases of development on the roughly nine-acre site in East Liberty.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

By the end of March, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority must begin treating its water with a type of chemical called orthophosphate to lower lead levels.

Road Work Ahead

Jan 25, 2019
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Highways, streets, and sidewalks get most Pittsburghers to and from work. On this month’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s series Still Working, though, roads themselves are essential to the workplace. Jill Smallwood drives a bus for the Port Authority of Allegheny County. John Spellman operates the “Shady Dog” hot dog cart in Shadyside. And Steve Smith makes road signs at Allegheny County’s sign shop.

City of Pittsburgh

Change is coming to the corner of Liberty Avenue and Main Street, the gateway to Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood.

Small Bills And A Good Accountant

Jan 16, 2019
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Note to readers: this story features an exotic dancer.

Tax time can be a headache for freelancers and independent contractors in the gig economy. If they haven’t kept track of income throughout the year, it can be daunting to calculate what they made and what they owe. Iris works as a stripper (we aren’t using her real name because she has concerns for her safety). Cash makes up the majority of her income, but she jots down what she makes each night to keep an eye on it. “I have a wonderful accountant and she handles a lot of that stuff for me,” says Iris.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority was incorporated in 1946 and needs to be restructured, Mayor Bill Peduto said late last week.

Kaily Love / 90.5 WESA

The region’s elected officials, civic leaders, businesses and residents can all agree on one thing: there has to be a better way to get to Pittsburgh International Airport than spending hours on the 28X.

90.5 WESA

Every day, roughly 300,000 people commute to Pittsburgh for work. They rely on city roads to get there and city police and fire to ensure their safety while they’re here, all of which costs money. But Pittsburgh, unlike Philadelphia, has no commuter tax to defray that burden.

Kevin C. Brown / WESA

Photographers know that good shots rarely happen by accident. It takes knowledge, planning, and creativity. Getting the perfect photo with Santa is no different. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and his administration have been working on a vision to address the city’s most persistent social problems under a single organizing plan, OnePGH.

Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Being human is difficult, but learning how to be human can be even more so. For the young students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Children’s School, teacher Jean Thompson Bird begins with making everyone feel included. “Everyone’s a friend and everyone can play,” she says. “That’s kind of our overarching rule.”

Gig Work

Dec 20, 2018
Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Note to readers: this story features an exotic dancer and details of Santa’s life when he’s off-the-clock.

A lot of ink has been spilled describing the the “gig economy.” This sector – comprised of quasi-independent and sometimes short-term jobs – has been made famous by the rise of Uber and other tech-enabled businesses. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Life ends. It’s a fact, but not one that most of us encounter on a daily basis. Theresa Brown does; she’s a hospice nurse for Healthcare @ Home, part of the Allegheny Health Network. She says hospice is really about providing care for an entire family as they encounter the reality of death. “We are all going to die,” she says. “If we’re lucky we get to think about how we want to die.”

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

Port Authority buses and trains arrive on schedule less than 70 percent of the time, according to a new report from state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. While there’s room to improve, DePasquale acknowledged that the agency has come a long way.

In 2014, his office released an audit that covered 2007 to 2012. Port Authority’s fiscal house was really out of whack, he said.

“What gets me rolling is when you’re giving a former executive director free housing, a free car, while cutting routes,” DePasquale said. “That gets my blood boiling.”

Kevin C. Brown / 90.5 WESA

Finding the right words can be tough. It’s something therapist Kim Hardin grapples with daily. She often works with patients who have experienced trauma, and wants to ensure they feel safe and supported as they confront their greatest challenges.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s proposed 2019 capital budget could cut funding for the Urban Redevelopment Authority by more than $5 million. URA officials say that limits their ability to invest in neighborhoods.

Suprima Joshi, Xianfu Sun

In Bloomfield, at the confluence of four roads, one bridge, and 11 lanes of traffic, there stands a grocery store. Some see an invaluable resource in the Bloomfield ShurSave IGA, others an underused space, and some, an opportunity—the future is in the eye of the beholder. As well as that of any future developer.