Fitzgerald Lines Up 2017 Priorities While Awaiting Changes In The White House

Dec 21, 2016

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, left, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, right, watch a Billy Joel video during a news conference where they announced the July 1, 2016 Billy Joel concert on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.
Credit Keith Srakocic / AP

Affordable housing, more efficient transportation and park improvements are what Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he’ll focus on in 2017.

But the New Year also brings a measure of uncertainty for the county executive.

Fitzgerald said he’s still waiting to see what happens with a new presidential administration in office.

“We don’t live in a vacuum here in Pittsburgh and in Allegheny County,” he said.

He said he hopes President-elect Donald Trump will keep his promise to invest in infrastructure.

“Those are needs around transportation and other areas that we want to see happen in western Pennsylvania,” Fitzgerald said. “If there are opportunities for us to partner, we will do that.”

In the meantime, he said the county will move forward with projects already underway, including the Bus Rapid Transit line to connect Oakland with downtown Pittsburgh. According to Fitzgerald, engineering work continues on the final route, location of stations and finding funding for the project. 

“We’re hoping in the next year or two to break ground on certain parts of it,” he said. “And in the next three or four years it will be built.”

Fitzgerald said one of his priorities for 2017 is affordable housing for county residents. He said Allegheny County saw nearly $3 billion in construction in 2015 and 2016. It's something he's proud of, but sees room for improvement in the year ahead. 

“I’m very pleased with (the county's growth),” he said. “But not everybody is sharing in that growth.” 

Fitzgerald said he plans to work more with developers on new projects with affordable housing components.

One construction project on the schedule calls for a new $6 million roof on the courthouse building, which is home to many of the county offices including Fitzgerald’s.

He said the courthouse roof hasn’t been worked on since the building's construction in 1888.  

“If you go up into parts of the attic or rafters of this building, you can see the sky,” Fitzgerald said. “Which means when it rains, it rains and it comes in and is doing damage.”