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Politics & Government

Alternative Transportation Receives Federal Funding

An ambitious plan to redevelop the Civic Arena site in Downtown Pittsburgh has received a sizeable loan to help fund the included multimodal transportation efforts.

A $946,680 loan was awarded to the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh to help fund a proposed intersection, complete with pedestrian safety infrastructure. The intersection, which will sit where they is currently only parking lots is part of the overall Lower Hill Infrastructure Project.

Mary Conturo, Executive Director for the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh, said the intersection is just a small piece of a larger project to rebuild the old Civic Arena site with a new street grid with roadways, sidewalks, energy efficient street lighting, storm water planners, streetscapes, street trees, and storm sanitary and water lines.

“We [SEA] are very appreciative of the grant,” Conturo said. “Every little bit helps.”

That loan is part of the $33 million in federal funds the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has awarded to 56 projects throughout the state. All are intended to improve infrastructure for alternative forms of transportation.

The money was distributed through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which was created in 2012 under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

When asked why she thought the project was chosen for the grant, Conturo said: “They [PennDOT] thought it was a good project and that we are far enough along that they would see their money being used in the near future and making a difference in the near future.”

The money PennDOT received through TAP will be divvied up and awarded to municipal governments and their departments, as well as universities, to enhance pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve public transportation, create safer routes to school – all in an effort to promote mobility and safety within the state.

“These awards represent yet another way PennDOT is working to broaden the reach of transportation investment in Pennsylvania,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch.

Two other loans were awarded to projects in Allegheny County, including $384,000 to the Pittsburgh Department of Public Works to help fund its effort to rebuild the Joncaire Street Steps located in Oakland, and $383,781 to Sharpsburg Borough to further fund the construction of the River Towns Bike-Ped Trail.

Schoch emphasized how the federal dollars add to an already concerted effort by the state legislature to improve alternative forms of transportation.

“Combined with awards from the new state Multimodal Fund and the Transportation Investment Fund, this program opens the door to an even wider variety of improvements for the people of Pennsylvania.”

The 56 projects were chosen from a pool of applications that were vetted and evaluated by PennDOT. Each project was judged and chosen based on its safety benefits to commuters, cost, statewide significance, integration of land use, and collaboration with local stakeholders.