Development & Transportation

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

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.

The most recent phase of the $36 million Crosstown Boulevard/Veterans Bridge Preservation Projects is causing morning rush hour traffic snarls for North Hills and Bigelow Boulevard commuters, and officials are looking at ways to ease the congestion.

PA Turnpike Considers Going All-Electronic

Sep 4, 2012

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is taking steps to make all of its interchanges collect tolls electronically. But how that will affect its human work force is yet be seen.

PAT CEO Bland Is Candidate For Jacksonville Job

Aug 31, 2012

The head of the financially-challenged Port Authority of Allegheny County is up for a similar post in Jacksonville. The Florida Times-Union reported today that PAT Chief Executive Office Steve Bland is one of three finalists to be executive director of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

"My family and I love living in the Pittsburgh area, my wife s original hometown, and we have no immediate plans to leave," Bland said in a statement released by the Port Authority.


Public transportation riders in Allegheny County have been spared, at least for the time being.  Deep service cuts were slated to take effect in early September, but have now been delayed for at least one year. That’s thanks to an infusion of state dollars and savings from union concessions.

Governor's Transportation Report: No Progress

Aug 21, 2012 Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

Last year, the Corbett administration's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) reported the state's transportation systems are underfunded and out of date.

But one year later, nothing has been done to address transportation infrastructure.

Union Approves PAT Contract

Aug 20, 2012

Workers of the Pittsburgh-area transit agency have ratified a new four-year contract that will head off job and service reductions.

The 2,300 workers cast their votes on Sunday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The pact includes a wage freeze, more pension contributions by workers, and health care concessions.

Gasoline and diesel fuel vehicles still make up the majority of those on the state’s roadways, but as more transportation entities look to alternative fuel vehicles, gas tax revenue might take a hit. A hearing of the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee took on that issue in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday. Chair, Representative Richard Geist (R-Altoona), asked an official from the Department of Revenue how many electric cars are on the state’s roadways. That wasn’t clear, so Geist took a different track.

Gas Prices Up, Up, Up

Aug 13, 2012

Drivers have probably been noticing an upward spike in gasoline prices, and consumers might not see relief until October.  According to Gregg Laskowski, senior petroleum analyst for, the average price in Pittsburgh today is $3.67 a gallon which is up 4.5 cents in the past week and 32 cents “believe it or not” just in the past month. The national average is also $3.67 a gallon.

Laskowski said crude oil trading is around $93 a barrel, and unless that price decreases, gasoline prices will steadily rise in the coming weeks.

PAT and Union Reach Contract Deal

Aug 9, 2012

The Port Authority (PAT) of Allegheny County and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have reached a tentative contract agreement that could be the first step in staving off massive service cuts. The agreement was announced Thursday by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. In a written statement from the Executive’s office, Fitzgerald said the agreement will be considered by the Local 85 membership on August 19th and the Port Authority Board will take up the issue in the following days. No details of the plan are to be officially released until those votes are taken.

The first of eight possible weekends of Squirrel Hill Tunnel closures took place this weekend, and the detour route was backed up about an hour. The shutdown of the westbound tunnel is a part of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PennDOT) $49.5 million rehabilitation project through August.

Even though the detour routing was not smooth, the progress accomplished within the tunnel was. PennDOT spokeman Jim Struzzi said most of the construction goals PennDOT had for the weekend were completed.

Major Overhauls Planned for South Hills Roads

Jul 25, 2012

Construction crews are scheduled to overhaul three major roadways in the South Hills of Pittsburgh this year and next.

It will take a $15 million investment from state, local, and federal government to fully redo the intersection of Route 51 and Route 88 in Overbrook. In addition to bridge repairs on each highway, crews will install a jug handle to streamline traffic at the commonly congested intersection.

South Hills Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said unbeknownst to many drivers, much of the two roadways is made up of bridges running over small brooks — hence, "Overbrook."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced funding of $787 million for 255 projects to build, repair and modernize transit systems across the country through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) "State of Good Repair" and "Bus Livability" programs. Demand, however, was much greater, with 836 applications seeking $4 billion in awards.

U.S. Airways CEO Douglas Parker said a merger with the bankrupt American Airlines could create the "greatest airline in the world."

U.S. Airways has more flights coming into Pittsburgh International Airport than any other airline. Douglas said a merger with American benefits more than just U.S. Airways' bottom line.

Monongahela Lock and Dam 4 at Charleroi Closes

Jul 16, 2012

Mon River traffic shut down this morning for scheduled repairs to Lock and Dam 4 at Charleroi, which should be completed August 3rd.

This work is patchwork, not the construction of new locks that was supposed to be completed in 2004 but now may not see funding until 2024 or 2025, according to Dan Jones of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Two Thirds of Mon Fayette Expressway Completed

Jul 16, 2012

Today marks the opening of another section of the Mon/Fayette Expressway that completes the 18-mile stretch between Uniontown and Brownsville. The 4-year long project makes 60 miles of continuous highway from I-68 in Morgantown, WV to Route 51 in Jefferson Hills.

Tom Fox, Public Information Manager for the Western Region Office of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said this portion of the highway extends from U.S. Route 119 in Uniontown to Route 88 in Washington County.

PAT Cuts Costing Taxpayers

Jul 13, 2012

With the Port Authority of Allegheny County's scheduled service cuts in September looming, an initiative of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, GoBurgh, found the cuts could be costing taxpayers more than was thought.

Chris Sandvig, GoBurgh's Regional Policy Director, said the group anticipates the cuts will cost taxpayers in Allegheny County as well as the surrounding counties hundreds of millions.

"Really that's based upon car ownership of transit riders," Sandvig said.

Starting Monday morning July 9, the bridge/ramp from Bedford Avenue to southbound I-579 (Crosstown Boulevard) will be closed for long-term rehabilitation. The work will include expansion dam replacements, deck and parapet replacements, and the resetting of bearings. This is part of a larger investment to improve heavily-traveled roadways in the city.

"A $36 million investment into the infrastructure into the downtown Pittsburgh area, some big restrictions will be occurring as the month of July progresses," said Jim Struzzi, a spokesman for PennDot District 11.

In 2008, a proposal by then Governor Ed Rendell to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years to a Spanish-U.S. consortium for $12.8 billion gained no traction with lawmakers. The privatization effort was an attempt to come up with funding alternatives to pay for mounting road, bridge and mass transit costs.

Four years later, the legislature has approved and Governor Tom Corbett has signed House Bill 3 that's aimed at creating public-private partnerships (P3's).

A 6,000 horsepower tugboat can lug around quite a bit of freight.

But when the AEP Legacy docked along the North Shore of the Allegheny River today, its most precious cargo was a message of warning.

"The infrastructure on the inland river system is in a dire state of repair," said Gretchen Chamberlain of AEP River Operations. Her company ships fourteen million tons of goods in and out of Pittsburgh every year, everything from glass and grain to coal and steel.

DUI Enforcement Increases For Independence Day

Jun 29, 2012

With the Fourth of July holiday approaching, PennDOT, along with several local police departments and the PA DUI Association, have launched the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. The effort aims to keep families safe while traveling over the holiday.

Steve Cowan, a Safety Press Officer for PennDOT, said the crackdown is now underway and will continue through July 8.

Sunday Marks Hike in Port Authority Fares

Jun 28, 2012

For a zone one ride on an Allegheny County Port Authority bus or train, the one-way fare will increase by 25¢ and zone two fares will increase by 50¢ starting July 1st. Ticket and pass prices are also due to increase on Sunday.

Heather Pharo, PAT spokesperson, said even though most fares are increasing, some will remain the same.

"Transfers are going to continue to be $1 for a full fare," Pharo said. "The T surcharges on the cash fares will continue to be 75¢ for full fare."

Wozniak: End Emissions Testing

Jun 25, 2012

State inspections could soon be a bit less expensive if a Johnstown-area lawmaker has his way. Pennsylvania State Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria County) is co-sponsoring legislation that would exempt new cars and alternative fuel vehicles from emissions inspections for 10 years.

"It's time to update our automobile mandates to reflect reality," said Wozniak. "When emissions inspections were enacted, there were still a lot of old, polluting cars on the road. Today, nearly all cars pass the emissions test and drivers have to pay up to $50 to be told what they already know."

PAT Board Approves Budget

Jun 22, 2012

The Port Authority of Allegheny County board members today approved a $333,071,733 operating budget for fiscal year 2012-13. It includes 25¢ fare increases effective July 1. The new budget is $37 million less than the current year's.

The budget also assumes a 35% service cut that includes the elimination of 42 routes, plus most weekend and weeknight services, effective September 2nd.

"Time is running out," Bland said. "We continue to work with state, county and union leadership on a solution in the hopes of avoiding the September service reductions."

Members of the Dutch Cycling Embassy are in Pittsburgh for a couple of days to examine the Forbes and Fifth corridors in Oakland, and to offer insight into how the roadways could be made more bicycle-friendly.

"It's a tough challenge, you have to be honest, because the car culture here is much more dominant than it is in Europe, but at the same time there are very promising developments. The trends for cycling in the U.S. are going up," said Tom Godefrooij, senior policy advisor for the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

PAT CEO Suggests Solutions

Jun 15, 2012

Slightly more than half of downtown Pittsburgh's workday commuters use public transportation to get to their employer's location. Some of Pittsburgh's largest employers downtown report as much as 70% of their workers using public transit.

Conventioneers at Pittsburgh's International Bridge Conference are tackling the challenge of the nation's deteriorating infrastructure with new innovations in bridge-building.

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said one new, cost-effective trend is the use of prefabricated materials. Bridges are assembled off-site, then installed in a matter of weeks. Mendez compared "prefab" construction to the use of Lego building blocks.

"T" Stops to be Eliminated

Jun 12, 2012

Some commuters will have to re-route starting June 25th because of changes to 13 stops of Pittsburgh's light rail system operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT).

Signs are now posted at the Traymore, Coast, Boustead, Neeld, Kelton, Martin Villa, Smith Road, Santa Barbara, Mine 3, Lindermer, Center, Latimer, and Sandy Creek "T" stops to inform riders that the rail will not stop at those locations starting the last Monday of June. The signs suggest alternate stops to use.

With the current federal transportation funding plan scheduled to expire July 1, speakers at the International Bridge Conference in Pittsburgh on Monday declared a crisis situation in the maintenance and repair of the nation's dilapidated bridges.

Gas Prices Down Again

Jun 11, 2012

Average retail gasoline prices in the Pittsburgh area have fallen in the last week to an average of $3.54 per gallon, two cents lower than the national average. That's lower than last year and down about 23¢ from last month.

Patrick DeHaan is a senior petroleum analyst in Chicago for, which tracks gas prices at 140,000 stations in the U.S. and Canada. He said prices are down because recent jobs reports have thrown into question the whole economic recovery.