Development & Transportation

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

PennDOT is to finish work by the end of next week on the Fancourt Bridge that carries ramps from Fort Duquesne Boulevard to I-376 over the 10th Street Bypass in downtown Pittsburgh.  

But there will be additional restrictions next week before the span reopens.  The ramp connecting  the 10th Street Bypass to westbound I-376 (outbound Fort Pitt Bridge/Parkway West) will be closed December 10-15 to replace an approach slab on the Fancourt Bridge and reconstruct the bypass roadway along the retaining walls.

Lawmakers are continuing to work on a comprehensive transportation funding solution, according to Governor Tom Corbett. The governor was in Wexford, highlighting the role transportation plays in the overall economy. He said Pennsylvania is currently at a very important economic juncture with the continuing energy boom as well as the growing manufacturing and technology sectors.

“The role transportation has will be putting all of these pieces together, allowing the people that are here to be able to move about from region to region,” said Corbett.

United Airlines Ranks Last in Flight Timeliness

Dec 3, 2012

According to analysis by the company Lets Fly Cheaper, air travelers are more likely to leave the gate late if they choose United Airlines over other carriers.

United Airlines ranked last in terms of timeliness on a list of 15 major carriers, using federal data from January to September of this year. The company's flights were on schedule roughly 76.5 percent of the time.

Just ahead of United in terms of punctuality were Express Jet Airlines (76.72% on time); American Airlines (77.86%); Frontier Airlines (79.12%); and JetBlue Airways (80.41%).

Empowering Senior Drivers And Keeping Them Safe

Dec 3, 2012

In Pennsylvania, drivers must renew their licenses every four years.  Motorists 65 and older have the option to renew every two years but are not required to do so, and they don't have to take another driving test.

So PennDOT and law enforcement officials want to keep elderly drivers safe while preserving their independence. During this week there are several events being held across southwestern Pennsylvania to highlight safety for older drivers.

Two dozen freight rail projects in Pennsylvania are receiving $18.6 million in state funding for infrastructure upgrades, much-needed repairs, and improving businesses’ rail access in 25 counties throughout the state.

The grant money is administered by PennDOT’s Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports, and Waterways.  PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said the money will be divided based on the specifics of each project.

Lucky Day: Free Parking in Pittsburgh on Saturday

Nov 23, 2012

Parking will be free at city-owned meters on Saturday, thanks to a resolution rushed through Pittsburgh City Council on Monday.

Councilman Bill Peduto said his bill suspends enforcement of parking meters all day on Saturday, in honor of Small Business Saturday. Peduto said it's a way to help Pittsburgh's neighborhood business districts attract shoppers just after the corporate marketing push of Black Friday.

PennDOT has scrapped a plan to put traffic signals on the ramps leading to the Parkway East.  The goal was to improve flow but drivers were worried it would do the opposite.

A transportation study done by the University of Pittsburgh recommended a combination of ramp closures and so-called ramp-metering-- a method in which signals or other devices that gauge when a vehicle can best enter the highway are placed at ramp entrances. But, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the outcry over that plan was loud.

Traveling for Thanksgiving? Be Ready For Busy Roads

Nov 19, 2012

Are you one of the 43.6 million Americans traveling more than 50 miles for their Thanksgiving celebration? If so, consider traveling on an off day or be prepared to hit traffic.

Ruth Nagy, Managing Director of Travel Operations for AAA East Central, said about 90 percent of travelers, or 39.1 million, this Thanksgiving will be going by car.  She said some are flying, but limited seats being offered by the airlines have reduced that number.

CMU May Study Month-by-Month City Parking Rates

Nov 14, 2012

If Pittsburgh City Council approves the necessary legislation this month, Carnegie Mellon University researchers will conduct a study of the optimal pricing for metered city parking spaces around the college.

CMU economics professor Stephen Spear said that means finding out the perfect parking price for each individual roadway, so as to keep every street's spaces 75 to 80 percent full.

Signal Violation to Blame in T Derailment

Nov 12, 2012
File photo / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County said that “a violation of a light rail signal” was what lead to Friday night’s derailment between the Gateway and Wood Street "T" Stations. PAT said the signal violation resulted in the light rail vehicle trying to pass through a switch before it had fully moved, and locked, into the correct position. The train derailed when it hit the switch. An investigation continues.

Three passengers complained of minor injuries after the incident.

Slowly but surely, the days of cash and cardboard card passes for Pittsburgh mass transit are becoming a thing of the past. Starting November 16, riders who buy December monthly passes at the Downtown service center will get “ConnectCards,” plastic cards that a rider will use in place of cardboard passes.

Port Authority spokesperson Jim Ritchie said the new payment system will be more convenient for than cash.

Pittsburgh’s 25-year transportation plan, MovePGH, has been taking public comment over the last year to craft an ultimate vision. Through that process the group has come up with a list of priorities and 5 goals, which it enveiled today.  Among the priorities -- providing balanced choices in transportation.

Operations at Pittsburgh International Airport are a mixed bag today as Sandy continues to affect areas from the East Coast to the Midwest. Numerous flights were canceled this morning, mostly due to a lack of planes.

“When there’s upheaval in the airline system, when a whole day’s worth of flights get canceled out of heavily-traveled airports such as Philadelphia, the New York airports, Washington DC, it does leave an imbalance in the system and aircraft aren’t where they should be when they need to be,” said Airport Spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny.

Highlands are Ready for the Megastorm

Oct 29, 2012

Somerset County says it is ready to go when it comes to the “Frankenstorm” brewing over Pennsylvania.  The county and the rest of the Laurel Highlands stand at a high enough elevation that the area could see some wet snowfalls.

“We are a ‘snow county,’ we’re used to the snow,” said Somerset County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Lohr. 

Locals Prepare for "Frankenstorm"

Oct 26, 2012

The pre-Halloween hybrid weather monster that federal forecasters call "Frankenstorm" is looking more ominous by the hour for the East Coast, and utilities and local governments are getting ready.

“We actually begin preparing for winter well before the fall months,” said PennDOT District 11 spokesperson Jim Struzzi.  “Right now we are just double checking everything to make sure all the equipment is as it should be.”

Allegheny River Locks Services Changing

Oct 23, 2012

As part of a national effort to redirect funding from operations to maintenance,  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh will change the hours and days of operation of several locks on the Allegheny River. Three locks will be restored to 24/7 service and Locks 6 and 7 will be reduced to commercial appointments only.

Given the deteriorating condition of the locks, services are being adjusted based on usage to help reduce costs. Jeff Hawk, Public Affairs Officer for the Corps’ Pittsburgh branch, said there is a direct relationship between funding and lock usage.

UPDATE: This story was originally published Oct 11th.  The second weekend of work began Friday night.  The detours are once again in place and the state is warning that delays could grow throughout the day.

ORIGINAL POST:The inbound lanes of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel are closing the next two consecutive weekends in order to complete work that raises the ceiling.  PennDOT spokesman, Jim Struzzi, said to expect significant delays during the closures starting at 9 p.m. on Friday through 5 a.m. Sunday on October 12-15th and 19-22nd.

IBM Wraps Up Pittsburgh Transit Consultation

Oct 12, 2012

IBM data experts made their final recommendations Friday after three weeks of studying Pittsburgh's transit systems and transit infrastructure. The city was one of 33 recipients of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, which allowed Pittsburgh City Planners to work with analysts to further the city's transportation initiatives.

The final mile of the Great Allegheny Passage is expected to be completed in April 2013.  When done, the 141-mile bicycle trail will connect Pittsburgh to Maryland. At that point, the trail, which connects to Washington D.C via the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, has a small gap between Pittsburgh and Duquesne. Officials say the trail is already a big draw, and this will only boost that.

A new report finds that young people are increasingly moving to Pittsburgh from cities such as Philadelphia, New York City and Washington D.C. 

The report, from PittsburghTODAY, examines the behaviors and attitudes of 400 + young residents living in the region.

Over the past five years, Pittsburgh has seen a seven percent influx of 20-34 year olds. That’s in contrast to years past when young people left Southwest Pennsylvania in droves.

A cake shaped like Pittsburgh International Airport greeted visitors Monday as they arrived for a celebration marking the facility’s 20th year. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the economic impact of owning and developing the land upon which the airport sits has resulted in great successes for the county over the last two decades.

RAD Board Includes Port Authority in Proposed Budget

Sep 27, 2012

The Allegheny County Regional Asset District (RAD) is including $3 million in funding for the Port Authority in its proposed budget as a provisional grant. The preliminary $88.5 million budget includes 95 separate grants to 85 organizations, plus the provisional grant that is to be considered by the full board.

“If all of the measures are adopted the 2013 budget will be a 2.5 percent increase from the 2012 budget and the largest allocation in RAD history,” said board member Stanley Parker.

Fancourt Bridge to Close

Sep 26, 2012

As of Thursday night the Francourt Bridge will be closed for long-term repairs, according to PennDOT District 11. The bridge carries the ramps from Fort Duquesne Blvd. to I-376.

Crews will be removing and replacing the superstructure, bridge deck, beams, bearing, and approach slabs during reconstruction.

Work will also be done on the walls adjacent to the bridge along the 10th Street Bypass.

Ramps from eastbound I-376 and southbound I-279 to the 10th Street Bypass will also close. According to PennDOT, the closures are necessary for work on the Fancourt Bridge.

The next time you find yourself dining or shopping at Station Square on Pittsburgh's South Side and your electric car needs a charge, you don't have to worry about getting home.

Forest City Enterprises, the company which owns Station Square, has partnered with Car Charging Group (CCG) to install an electric car charging station that is now operational.  This is the latest car charging center in the Pittsburgh area. There are plug-in stations at some Giant Eagle supermarkets, UPMC hospitals as well as Whole Foods in Wexford.

Smart Signals Cut Pollution and Travel Time

Sep 24, 2012

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they have been able to reduce travel time through an area of Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood by 26-percent and reduce car emissions by 20-percent through the installation of a smart signal system.  The project is part of the Traffic 21 Initiative looking at the place where traffic management and information management collide.

The project spent a little more than $150,000 to add video cameras and other technology to nine intersections around the Target store near Penn Circle in East Liberty.

Grant Street Ramps To I-376 Restricted For 2 Weeks

Sep 24, 2012

Motorists wanting to access eastbound I-376, the Parkway East, using Grant St. in downtown Pittsburgh will have to find an alternative for two weeks. There will also be some restrictions for the ramp from Grant St. to westbound I-376.

“Well the main ramp, the ramp that we are doing the work on to eastbound I-376, will be closed around the clock, and that will occur starting today through October 7," said PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi.  "The other ramp to westbound I-376 is only going to be closed at night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night, including weekends."

Travelers passing through Pittsburgh International Airport might find their check-ins are a bit quicker due to new procedures for the passenger screening lanes. Beginning Tuesday, September 25, the lanes located outside the ticketing level (the alternate checkpoint)  will change the morning hours to 4:00-8:00 a.m. and afternoon hours to 2:00-6:00 p.m.

PA Auditor General Wants Legislature To Focus On Transportation Issues

Sep 21, 2012

Jack Wagner has been traveling throughout the commonwealth since last fall, pointing out bridges that are sometimes actually crumbling.

Now Pennsylvania's Auditor General is sending a DVD of the television coverage of his stops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Scranton to labor and industry groups to support his call for lawmakers to pass legislation funding road and bridge repairs.

Wagner says he hopes they help him lobby state lawmakers.  

They are in millions of cars across the country but according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) three out of four child safety seats are not properly installed.  So PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police are again partnering to offer safety seat checkups as part of National Child Passenger Safety Week.

Pittsburgh Wins Pro-Walk, Pro-Bike Conference

Sep 14, 2012 Bike Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

A nationwide conference geared toward highlighting and brainstorming ideas for pedestrian and bicycling enhancements is coming to Pittsburgh in two years.  

Pittsburgh will host the 2014 Pro Walk/ Pro Bike Conference September 8-12, and use the opportunity to showcase bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure initiatives in the city. The biennial event has been held since 1980 and is coordinated by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking.