Development & Transportation

We cover how people move about the region, as well as trends in housing and commercial development.

While the beginning of construction season is still a few weeks away, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has opened bidding for projects across the state.

49 projects worth an estimated $282 million will be bid on in Allegheny County this year. Of these, 24 will involve replacing or improving bridges in the county—which are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Kevin Gavin/90.5 WESA

As a result of the upcoming “sequestration,” the automatic cuts to federal spending on Friday, travelers flying from Pittsburgh might have to put up with longer lines, and more delays.

Brad Penrod, President of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, said they’re in talks with the TSA, FAA, and Customs and Border Protection to prepare for the fallout from the cuts.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is facing a $600 million budget decrease and is considering furloughing “the vast majority” of the its 47,000 employees for one day per pay period until September.


A local public policy group is asking the commonwealth to ask some hard questions before subsidizing AMTRAK's ride from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg on a train called The Pennsylvanian

The passenger rail train service has lost some federal funds, and is now looking to Pennsylvania for $5.7 million.

While no major overhauls are in the works, the Port Authority of Allegheny County is planning to alter some bus routes.

Beginning March 17, approximately 35 routes will be tweaked. Heather Pharo, spokesperson for the Port Authority, said the changes are for a variety of reasons including overcrowding along some routes.

AAA Finds One in Four Text While Driving

Feb 25, 2013
Jason Weaver / Flickr

A new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 27 percent of motorists sent a text or email while driving in the past month.

It also found that two out of three motorists talked on their phone while driving in the last 30 days, and 89 percent believe others using cell phones are a danger to their safety.

The survey gauged the reactions of about 3,900 U.S. residents ages 16 and older to different safety situations.

When Governor Corbett released his proposed 2013-14 budget of $28.4 billion this month, it included a transportation investment plan.

The governor said that his five year initiative would total more than $5.3 billion--roughly an additional $250 million per year for mass transit in Pennsylvania.

But Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute, a conservative think tank, said the increased amounts don't add up.

AAA Kicks Off “FIX PA ROADS” Campaign

Feb 15, 2013

Pennsylvania AAA Clubs are launching a statewide public service outdoor advertising campaign to call attention to the state’s crumbling roads and unsafe bridges.

AAA East Central today announced a campaign to urge state officials to boost funding for the state’s ailing transportation system.

According to Brian Newbacher of AAA East Central, transportation investment has been under-funded in Pennsylvania for decades, and will take some years to fix.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Still Looking for More Transportation Money

Feb 13, 2013

Governor Tom Corbett’s plan new transportation would generate more than $5 billion over a five year period, however, some say the budget might not be enough to fix Pennsylvania’s transit woes. The plan is projected to yield less money than the governor’s transportation funding advisory commission said would be necessary to keep up with the needs of the state’s ailing infrastructure.

Pennsylvania senate Transportation Committee chairman John Rafferty is leading the effort to draft legislation on the issue. He said he’s looking for something north of that.

Winter Storm Nemo Wreaks Havoc On Travel Plans

Feb 8, 2013

While winter storm Nemo won’t be hitting the Pittsburgh region, its impact will still be felt—especially when it comes to flights from Pittsburgh International.

JoAnn Jenny, spokesperson for the airport, said there wasn’t a final tally by the airport of the amount of cancelled and/or delayed flights, but it wouldn’t be surprising to her if there were going to be “hundreds if not thousands” of flights cancelled because of the storm.

For the first time, PennDOT is conducting an inventory of all the bridges in Pennsylvania. Previously, the agency was only required to keep a log of any state or locally owned bridge more than 20 feet in length.

PennDOT spokesperson, Erin Waters-Trasatt, said only numbers and not conditions would be reported. “This initiative is taking a bridge and local road inventory. It is not assessing or inspecting these roads and bridges,” Waters-Trasatt said.

AIRMALL Renovates to Draw in More Customers

Jan 29, 2013

The center core in the landside terminal of Pittsburgh International Airport will look very different once renovations to update its retail space are finished at the end of this year.

AIRMALL USA, the operator of Pittsburgh International’s shops and restaurants is beginning a $10 million project to increase business in the airport’s stores.  Because of federal security rules only ticketed passengers can access the mall's stores.

Jay Kruisselbrink, vice president of development for AIRMALL, said the changes will reflect the airport’s transformation over 20 years.

Snow Comes Fast to Pittsburgh Region

Jan 25, 2013

<strong>UPDATED 4:10pm:</strong> The first flakes of snow began to fall in the Pittsburgh area a little after 10:00am Friday and the first reports of slippery roads and sidewalks were not far behind.  A winter weather advisory remains in effect for most of southwestern Pennsylvania until 1:00am Saturday. 

The National Weather service is calling for 1-2 inches of accumulation with as much as six inches in the Laurel Highlands where the advisory does not expire until Saturday afternoon. 

Cold Equals Calls for Western Pennsylvania AAA

Jan 23, 2013

It’s the dead of winter, and that can mean issues with your car.

AAA East Central spokesperson Bevi Powell said call volume has doubled because of Pittsburgh’s stretch of below-freezing temperatures.

“Most of those calls coming in are primarily batteries that won’t start, and then tires, because the cold weather affects the air pressure on your tires,” Powell said. “And then lockouts because people start their cars so that its nice and warm, and then they discover that they’ve locked their keys in the car.”

At the doorway to the Pittsburgh City Council Chamber Tuesday morning, a score of people gathered to call for more investment in Pennsylvania's transportation systems, particularly concerning mass transit.

Members of the Allegheny County Labor Council, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, City Council, and Pittsburghers for Public Transit all spoke in favor of pulling a transportation funding commitment from Governor Tom Corbett and the state legislature.

The fumes emitted from diesel fuel are far from pleasant, especially when drivers find themselves following these types of vehicles down the highway. An Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will allow UPMC to replace 20 diesel-fuel shuttle buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

A recent uptick in in highway deaths has prompted AAA to continue to work with Pennsylvania legislators on tighter driver safety laws. That includes bans on texting while driving, which is already on the books in the commonwealth, primary seat belt laws and ways to increase teen driver safety.

Slippery Conditions Abound North of Pittsburgh

Jan 9, 2013

Police have been warning motorists to stay off the roads or use extreme caution in the suburbs and counties north of Pittsburgh, where rain is freezing on roadways despite above-freezing air temperatures.

The National Weather Service says the icy spots are developing because the ground remains cold enough from a recent cold spell.

State police in Butler, 30 miles north of the city, issued a plea for people to stay off the roads temporarily, and police in Punxsutawney, 60 miles northeast of the city, report they're dealing with multiple crashes.

Due to an increase in retirements recently, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) is hiring drivers this month while recruiting even more to fill operator vacancies in the future.  A new contract set in place this past summer along with funding cuts has made it more difficult for the transit agency to attract new drivers.

Water Main Break Snarls Downtown Traffic

Jan 3, 2013

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) says its expects repairs to be completed by 11 pm Thursday to a water main that burst this morning in downtown Pittsburgh causing traffic problems and icy conditions but streets will remain closed through Friday's morning rush hour. 

PWSA Director of Operations Tom Palmosina said the contractor has completely exposed the split pipe and workers are in the process of installing the new 12-inch ductile iron pipe.  

“We are fortunate that no one is without water."

The long-awaited stretch of Route 219 in Somerset County between Meyersdale and Somerset is projected to begin in late spring or early summer.  PennDOT district 9, which includes Somerset County, is in the final stages of securing the necessary permits from the Department of Environmental Protection.  Proposals began circulating for this 11-mile stretch of Route 219 nearly 40 years ago. 

Gas prices have been trending downward in the U.S. for the last several weeks, and that trend is expected to continue into 2013. That’s according to AAA East Central, which covers Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

“It is expected to continue unless something happens that affects the supply or the demand then we do expect them to trend downward, this is usually the time of year when gas prices do fall,” said AAA Spokeswoman Bevi Powell.

Barges and other river traffic moving through Pittsburgh might soon be using a broadband wireless network to announce their arrival and keep everyone a little bit safer.

The Port of Pittsburgh Commission (PPC) is developing a first-of-its-kind network that it feels could have uses in busy inland waterways across the country. 

Round Two of Pittsburgh v. Winter

Dec 29, 2012

The second wave of winter weather moved into the Pittsburgh area early Saturday morning leaving about five inches of fresh snow on the ground by the time it left.

The National Weather Service says another storm could drop as much as an inch on the Pittsburgh region over night Saturday into Sunday.

Pittsburgh Public Works crews were seen throughout the city Saturday morning trying to stay ahead of the snow. Most major arteries remained clear but some side streets remained untouched for hours.  

City Fights Snow and Prepares Weekend

Dec 27, 2012

50 city-owned vehicles have been working on Pittsburgh streets since Wednesday to battle the snow, sleet and ice combination coming down on the area. 

Pittsburgh Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski said the primary, or critical, roadways in the city were addressed first. By 2:00 p.m. Thursday, nearly all of the secondary streets had been plowed, cleared, and salted.

For those who park on those secondary roadways, which is the case in most of the city, Kaczorowski suggested moving the vehicle if at all possible.

Storm Hits Pittsburgh

Dec 26, 2012

<strong> UPDATE: 3:21PM 12/26/12 </strong>

Non-essential state employees have been sent home early as winter storm Euclid spreads across the state. A thin layer of ice under a quickly falling snow has made travel throughout western Pennsylvania extremely difficult on this day-after Christmas. 

Pennsylvania State Police have closed Route 28 in both directions from Harmarville (Exit 11) to Tarentum (Exit 14). Turnpike officials have declared a weather emergency and have lowered the speed limit to 45 mph from the Ohio state line to the Blue Mountain Tunnel. 

AAA East Central anticipates having to help about 39,000 stranded motorists in the four-state region including Pennsylvania during the holiday travel period which started before Christmas and will end January 2nd. AAA’s Steve Popovich said the good news, is motorists can take an active role in avoiding being stranded.

Winter Storm Draco Could Delay Travel Plans

Dec 21, 2012

UPDATE:  11AM 12/22/12

Weather officials say a winter storm  brought more than eight inches of snow to parts of western Pennsylvania. The National Weather Service says 8.3 inches was reported Saturday morning in Fayette County.

Parts of  Venango and Mercer Counties received six inches;  five inches in Forest County and four-inch totals were reproted in Clarion and Jefferson counties.

A winter storm warning for parts of western Pennsylvania remains in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday.


The nation’s roadways and airports are about to get a lot busier, as families and friends head out to spend Christmas with those they love.

“We’ll have 93.3 million who will be traveling an average of 760 miles or more away from home, 90 percent of those will be on our nation’s roadways,” said Ruth Nagy, managing director of travel operations for AAA.

Three main issues worry leaders throughout the state: clean water, redevelopment, and transportation. Those things were tackled at a one-day conference in Pittsburgh, which included state and local leaders along with business owners and operators and community members. One of the biggest issues is funding transportation systems. It’s a problem Allegheny County knows all too well.

Woman Struck by 3 Vehicles in Strip Dist. Dies

Dec 11, 2012

Pittsburgh police say a woman has died after being struck by three vehicles, including a box truck which left the scene.

Police say it's possible the truck driver didn't realize he had run over 53-year-old Judith Kollar, of West Mifflin, about 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The incident happened in the Strip District, a section of the city dominated by vegetable and fresh food wholesalers, where freight trucks unload overnight and into the morning.