Development & Transportation

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

All this week, the Monongahela Lock and Dam 4 at Charleroi will be closed periodically as crews install massive panels on the lower river guard walls.

"It's going to cause some delays with river traffic, but it won't be closed the entire time. There will just be intermittent closures. Any recreational boaters should expect delays as commercial vessels will have priority during that time," said Dan Jones, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A local lawmaker's push to allow mass transportation providers easier access to Allegheny County has made it to the governor. House Bill 10 passed the Pennsylvania Senate Tuesday on a 27-21 vote. The same measure moved out of the House on a 118-81 vote last year.

Alternative Fuels Education Day in Harrisburg

Jun 4, 2012

Representatives of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), the PennFuture Energy Center and alternative fuels businesses gathered in Harrisburg today to host Alternative Fuels Education Day. The event included exhibits and presentations in the capitol building's East Wing Rotunda, while electric, natural gas, and biodiesel vehicles were parked outside on Commonwealth Avenue.

A group of state Senators has launched an effort to call Pennsylvania lawmakers back to Harrisburg this summer to grapple with transportation issues. State Sen. Mike Stack (D- Philadelphia) is circulating petitions calling for a special session this summer focused only on transportation issues.

To convene the session, half of the members of both the House and the Senate must sign the petitions.

"I know if folks are being realistic about this issue we can get those signatures," said Stack.

In an ongoing effort to ensure the light rail system runs efficiently during busy times, the Port Authority of Allegheny County is taking several steps including calling back workers who were laid off last year. Port Authority CEO Steve Bland told the Board of Directors at their monthly meeting, the loss of about 135 employees in recent months was a contributing factor to problems with the North Shore Connector earlier this month.

Parkway West Traffic Ranks Among U.S.'s Worst

May 23, 2012

Even the most "livable" city has its problems. The Parkway West's (I-376) stretch from Green Tree to the Fort Pitt Tunnel is the ninth worst traffic corridor in the nation according to the National INRIX Traffic Scorecard.

Of the 162 corridors INRIX evaluated across the country, Pittsburgh's problem area is the only one outside of New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to make the worst-10 list.

State Funding Could Prevent ACCESS Cuts

May 17, 2012

A bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would allow the Port Authority of Allegheny County to apply for special funding from the state to avoid cuts planned for its ACCESS paratransit program.

Sponsoring Representative Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) said his bill would make the Port Authority eligible for up to $3.7 million for ACCESS. The money would only supplement PAT's total budget for paratransit services.

Port Authority CEO Steve Bland issued a personal apology to all riders who were affected by last weekend's North Shore Connector Delays.

"Without a doubt everyone at Port Authority, from our rail operators to our operations management, from myself and our board of directors, think that was inexcusable and cannot be allowed happen again," he said.

Turnpike Speed Limit Boost Bill Heads to House

May 9, 2012

Motorists may have the option of going a full five miles per hour faster on the Turnpike, if one state House proposal is approved. The plan would raise the roadways upper limit from 65 to 70 miles-per-hour.

The 70 miles per hour speed limit idea is a bit of a throwback. In fact, the Turnpike was something of a wild west in its early days.

Business Leaders Call for PAT Funding Solution

May 3, 2012

Representatives of Pittsburgh's business community are warning state legislators that local companies would be seriously hurt by the Port Authority of Allegheny County's plan to cut service by 35%.

The Port Authority plans to drop 46 of its 102 routes in September, a necessary response to its $65 million budget deficit. The authority went through a similar round of cuts last year.

Beginning of the End for the Port Authority?

Apr 27, 2012

In the 48-year history of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, never has it faced a bigger decision and potentially even bigger fallout.

The PAT board of directors reluctantly voted Friday to cut service by 35%, which officials said would result in a loss of at least 40,000 of its 225,000 riders.

Some Young Drivers Ignoring Seat Belt Laws

Apr 24, 2012

New research has shown that novice teen drivers who live in states with so-called "secondary enforcement" seatbelt laws are less likely to use the life-saving devices than those in "primary enforcement" states.

A primary seatbelt law allows an officer to stop a vehicle and issue a citation to the person simply for not wearing a seatbelt. 33 states, including Pennsylvania, have primary offense seatbelt laws.

17 states have secondary offense seatbelt laws that only allow for a citation to be issued if the driver is stopped for a primary violation, such as speeding.

Eight Times More Likely To Pass a Deficient Bridge than a McDonald's

Apr 20, 2012

A crowd gathered Friday under the 28th Street Bridge, which links the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Polish Hill and the Strip District, as Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner declared Pennsylvania has "the worst bridges in the country."

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development has released a report touting the economic benefits of converting fleets to natural gas. ACCD spokesman Ken Zapinski said the cost differential between oil and natural gas is setting records. "In terms of the price differential, and based on new reserves coming online for natural gas," Zapinski said, "the projections from the Energy Information Administration are that gas is going to stay significant for decades to come."

Added Patrols Looking For Speeders

Apr 12, 2012

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and state and local police have begun a weeks-long enforcement campaign to crack down aggressive driving such as speeding, tailgating and running red lights.

The cost for the additional patrols is funded by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Police are also checking for seatbelt use.

Protesters Demand More Public Transit Funding

Apr 4, 2012

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday to decry proposed public transit cuts.

Occupy Pittsburgh and the local Amalgamated Transit Union teamed up to demand that the state provide more funding to the Port Authority of Allegheny County. PAT is facing a $64 million budget deficit, and plans for a 35% service cut to take effect this September.

ATU Local 85 President Patrick McMahon said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett must take action to fund public transit.

Roadway Closed by January Landslide Reopened

Apr 2, 2012

McArdle Roadway, which leads up to Mt. Washington and had been closed following a landslide in early January, is now reopened after $1 million of reconstruction, but it will be closely checked during wet weather to prevent more problems.

Rob Kaczorowski, director of Public Works for the city of Pittsburgh, said he is confident the problem that led to more than 100 tons of earth sliding onto the roadway has been fixed.

Motorists using the Parkway North (Interstate 279) should expect some delays this weekend as PennDOT crews install an overhead truss to hold an advisory message board.

From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, drivers should plan on single and double lane closures near the Hazlett Street Exit 3 interchange.

PennDOT District 11 spokesman Jim Struzzi said the work won't cause major delays.

Beginning Sunday, March 25, transit routes across the Pittsburgh region may experience adjustments.

Heather Pharo of the Port Authority Transit (PAT) of Allegheny County said these are standard tweaks that occur even without the huge budget deficit the Authority faces come the new fiscal year July 1.

City Council Considers Traffic Light Cameras

Mar 20, 2012

In order to assess fines on drivers who run red lights, some traffic lights in Pittsburgh may be equipped with cameras in the near future.

Under a bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pittsburgh and several other Pennsylvania cities would have the option of installing the so-called red light cameras. Philadelphia has been running a camera program since 2005.

Pittsburgh Airport Now Accessible By Bicycle

Mar 20, 2012

Dozens of spandex-clad bicyclists pedaled to the airport via the newly-opened connection between the Montour Trail and Pittsburgh International Airport Tuesday. According to organizers, the Montour Trail is the longest suburban trail in the nation. Years ago area officials were tasked with connecting it to the airport. Now that it's complete, officials said an economic boost to the region will follow.

New Taxis to Focus on Downtown Pittsburgh

Mar 20, 2012

A new taxi fleet will allow Pittsburghers to hail cabs in the Golden Triangle, rather than calling a dispatch service. The "City Cab" service launched Tuesday with a fleet of six cars.

The white taxis are meant to focus on downtown Pittsburgh, but they'll also cart people to nearby neighborhoods like Oakland, the South Side, the North Side, and Mount Washington.

The Pittsburgh Transportation Group launched the fleet at a total cost of about $250,000, including roughly $12,500 for each car.

North Shore Connector Wins Construction Award

Mar 20, 2012

The builders of the $523 million North Shore Connector, which is to open to the public Sunday, have won the Alliant Build America Award.

North Shore Constructors, a consortium of contracting firms, is among 16 recipients to have "demonstrated the very best when it comes to building a better America," according to the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, the group bestowing the honor.

AGC spokesman Brian Turmail said the complexity of the connector project impressed the judges.

Pedaling Pittsburgh History

Mar 20, 2012

Highway Fatalities Decrease, Setting Record

Mar 16, 2012

Last year marked the second-lowest number of highway fatalities since the 1940s. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that there were 33 fewer highway fatalities in 2011 than in 2010.

Erin Waters, PennDOT spokesperson, says that 90 percent of highway crashes are caused by driver behavior, and although the budget is tight, they continue to enforce safe driving procedures.

Green Boulevard Meeting to Highlight New Designs

Mar 14, 2012

Consultants working on the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard will unveil their designs during a meeting Thursday in Lawrenceville.

The Green Boulevard will span the six and a half mile stretch of land that is currently the Allegheny Valley Railroad Right-of-Way. It could include riverfront park access, neighborhoods, kayak and boat access, and a multi-use rail corridor capable of transporting people to offices or entertainment downtown.

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Restrictions Begin Monday

Mar 14, 2012

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will begin nighttime restrictions of the inbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel on Monday. It's part of the preliminary stage of a two-year, $49.5 million rehabilitation project.

District Executive Dan Cessna said crews will focus on the inbound half of the structure this year. In 2013, the repair work — and accompanying traffic restrictions — will move over to the outbound side.

North Shore Connector Almost Set to Roll

Mar 13, 2012

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is putting the finishing touches on its project to extend light rail service to the North Shore.

The $523 million "North Shore Connector" is set to run its first public train on Sunday, March 25.

Across the state, drivers should be putting away their cell phones to focus on the road, and will now likely catch sight of signs reminding them of the cost of getting caught texting while driving.

Beginning this week, 60 billboards will run for at least four weeks to inform drivers of the new statewide ban on drivers' texting which went into effect March 8. 35 states and Washington, D.C. prohibit drivers from texting.

Brian Newbacher, public affairs director for AAA East Central said many are outspoken against texting while driving, but they don't always act.

Citing a lack of details and a track record of sub-par management of Pittsburgh International Airport, the Allegheny Institute, a conservative think tank based in Mt. Lebanon, is questioning the Allegheny County Airport Authority's bid to run Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Authority is among six groups trying to win the contract. Institute Senior Research Associate Frank Gamrat said while they are all for privatization, "what makes us skeptical of the proposal is they're not starting in their own back yard first."