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Politics & Government

City Leaders Wrestle With The Future Of Transportation At Pittsburgh Summit

Virginia Alvino Young
90.5 WESA


Municipal officials from around the country grappled with changes in transportation, such as self-driving cars and rail safety, while meeting in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

This week, Pittsburgh is hosting 3,000 mayors and council members from around the country, as well as local leaders, for the National League of Cities' annual City Summit. They’ll meet through Saturday to discuss the challenges currently facing cities and share best practices for energy efficiency, working with startups and increasing transparency.

On Wednesday, members of the Transportation Infrastructure and Services Committee met to address the ways technology is changing transportation – such as Uber’s autonomous vehicles, said Matthew Colvin, principle associate of federal advocacy for transportation for the NLC.

“Starting to look at ways we can work with the federal government to be good partners in the rollout of those technologies,” Colvin said. “Allowing cities to continue to be the leaders there and just really sort of stay out of our way and let us lead on these issues, that’s a big priority for us.”

He said there’s also concern about president-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal. It would put infrastructure projects’ construction and management in the hands of the private market.

Colvin said private companies will want to recoup their money.

“They may start tolling all of your bridges,” he said. “So now, every bridge becomes a toll bridge in Pittsburgh as a way to pay back the private investors.”

Colvin said the NLC will advocate for local officials to be in charge of infrastructure money.

National League of Cities committees are also addressing policies for public safety, economic development and natural resources.