Development & Transportation

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

Starting Tuesday, drivers under the age of 18 will face more stringent requirements for obtaining a driver's license, and more restrictions when they first get one.

The new law adds 15 hours of supervised, behind-the-wheel training for driver's license permit holders younger than 18. That brings the total to 65 hours. Ten of those additional hours must be completed after dark, and five of them in poor weather conditions.

Free T Rides to the North Shore

Dec 21, 2011

Passengers will be able to ride the T to the North Shore for free when the Port Authority opens the tunnel under the Allegheny River next year. The Stadium Authority of the City of Pittsburgh voted today to split the cost of underwriting the service with Alco Parking.

The deal extends the free downtown zone to the North Side T Station, to be located at the West General Robinson Street Garage.

Under the agreement, the Stadium Authority and Alco would pay Port Authority a combined $160,000 in the first year of operation, with a $5,000 bump in each of the next two years.

The Allegheny Regional Asset District has approved $100,000 in funding for a project that will better link downtown Pittsburgh to the region's trail system.

The Mon Wharf Switchback Ramp will slope down from the Smithfield Street Bridge to the Mon Wharf Landing park and trail. The completed project will allow cyclists easy access in and out of the golden triangle, Point State Park, and the Great Allegheny Passage. The Allegheny Passage is an interstate trail system running 150 miles between Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

On Monday, the Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group for those with disabilities, held the first of what it hopes will be several forums on improving transportation options for people with disabilities in the Pittsburgh region. The focus will be on requesting that taxi cabs comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

DUI Crackdowns Set for Holidays

Dec 9, 2011

PennDOT is reminding people not to get behind the wheel impaired this holiday season. In 2010, there were more than 12,000 DUI crashes and over 52,000 arrests in Pennsylvania.

Steve Cowan, Safety Press Officer for PennDOT District 11 (including Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence Counties), said police will be out looking for drunk drivers now through New Year's Day.

State IDs Get New Hologram

Dec 5, 2011

Pennsylvania's driver's license and identification cards just became more difficult to counterfeit.

PennDOT has added a new hologram feature to any newly-produced license that should make counterfeits even more apparent than before. PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight explained the new addition.

Thanksgiving Fatalities Down in Pennsylvania

Nov 28, 2011

Pennsylvania State Police reported 1,007 crashes on state roads over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday. Commissioner Frank Noonan said that the accidents resulted in ten deaths and 326 injuries. Last year, 17 people were killed in 1,091 crashes on state roads.

Noonan said that four of the deaths were in alcohol-related crashes. Of the 1,007 crashes, 103 were tied in some way to drinking.

Allegheny County is holding a public meeting on Wednesday to gather input on the Allegheny Valley Community Trails Initiative. The project would expand the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and ultimately link Pittsburgh to Erie and Harrisburg.

"It connects 17 municipalities to the trail, and the multi-municipal planning piece is really important to these riverfront communities," said Darla Cravotta, special projects coordinator with Allegheny County.

PennDOT: Be Safe This Holiday

Nov 23, 2011

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ranks Thanksgiving as the most dangerous holiday for travelers. In an effort to help motorists get to their destinations in one piece this year, PennDOT is partnering with police to encourage safe driving.

PennDOT warns motorists to expect heightened enforcement of seatbelt laws. Officials said that law enforcement will be on the lookout for aggressive and impaired driving. Sobriety checkpoints will pop up around the state, along with the regular traffic safety patrols.

High-Speed Rail Not Dead in Pennsylvania

Nov 18, 2011

Lawmakers in Washington DC have put an end to federal funding for President Obama's national high-speed rail program, but officials in Pennsylvania are not yet ready to declare the efforts in their state dead.

Green Boulevard Planning Underway

Nov 16, 2011

A six-mile stretch of land northeast of downtown Pittsburgh is getting ready for a big transition. What is currently the Allegheny Valley Railroad Right-of-Way will be the future home to the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard.

The boulevard 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.

Fight for Cell Phone Driving Ban Continues

Nov 8, 2011

Restrictions on teen drivers have become law. The ban on texting while driving will be signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on Wednesday, but some lawmakers say there is still a lot of work to be done.

Pennsylvania State Representative Eugene DePasquale (D-York County) wants to make it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving unless you are using a hands-free device.

No Surprise? Deer Crashes More Likely in Pennsylvania

Nov 7, 2011

Pennsylvania drivers have the fourth highest odds of hitting deer in the United States, according to an annual report from State Farm. The insurance company calculated that drivers have a one in 86 chance of hitting a deer in the next year, although those odds are down from last year.

According to PennDOT, there were about 14,000 deer-strike crashes between 2006 and 2010. More than 3,100 people were injured and 43 killed in those accidents.

State troopers from Allegheny and Washington Counties began a crackdown on speeding drivers on I-79 on Tuesday that will continue through November 13.

Pennsylvania State Police are using speed display trailers on the side of the road to alert drivers to how fast they're traveling compared to the speed limit and provide fair warning.

Jay Ofsanik, spokesman for PennDOT's District 12, said this is the first time in a while that state police have targeted speeding while using speed trailers.

Greenfield Bridge May Come Down in 2014

Oct 27, 2011

The crumbling Greenfield Bridge may be demolished in a few years, with a larger structure slated to take its place.

By approving bills to fund a study of the proposed demolition, Pittsburgh City Council has started the engine of a process that would result in the demolition and replacement of the 89-year-old bridge, which spans the Parkway East near the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

Pat Hasset of the Pittsburgh Department of Public Works said the study would examine the details of both parts of the process.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is giving out more than $4.4 million in Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants. The money will be split among 12 projects throughout the state. The projects are focused on developing the state's natural gas and electric vehicle infrastructure.

PennDOT Builds Floodgates in Pittsburgh

Oct 24, 2011

Construction will begin Tuesday on a floodgate system on Washington Boulevard and Highland Drive aimed at preventing the same type of tragedy that took the life of four people earlier this year.

"We've been designing the project for the last several months and we anticipate starting construction this week and wrapping it up in the first part of 2012, hopefully by January," said PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cesna.

Transportation Funding Bills Moved in Pennsylvania

Oct 20, 2011

A top Pennsylvania Senate Republican is trying to bring the issue of the commonwealth's ailing roads and bridges to the forefront by introducing a package of bills dealing with the financial side of the equation.

At the beginning of the month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said he hadn't made any decisions about transportation funding because of the tough economy even though his Transportation Funding Advisory Commission released a lengthy report identifying possible revenue streams and funding needs. However, Senator Jake Corman believes now is the time to act.

Pittsburgh is one tiny step closer to the installation of a passenger rail line along the Allegheny River.

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to bills that would allow the Urban Redevelopment Authority to apply for and administer a $1 million federal rail improvement grant.

Sponsoring Councilman Patrick Dowd said the grant would be used to help make adjustments to the existing Allegheny Valley Rail Line for use as both a commuter rail service, and as an "urban circulator," as per the Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan announced last year.

Barge Sinks on Ohio, Cleanup Continues

Oct 6, 2011

A barge carrying sand and gravel sank on the Ohio River Wednesday night. Crews are continuing their attempt to salvage both the cargo and the vessel itself. The river's traffic routine is returning to normality.

Emsworth Lock and Dam lock master Don Ziler said the vessel was part of a group of barges carried by a tow boat. Ziler said the tow was "below the lock, waiting for another tow to pass it" when the problem began.

The Republican candidate for Allegheny County Executive continued his policy rollout Thursday by detailing his plans for the Pittsburgh International Airport. D. Raja says that if elected, he'd focus on three ways to develop the airport: first, creating an "innovation zone"; second, increasing demand for air traffic; third, vamping up public transit from the city to the Findlay Township site.

PAT Introduces Bike-Friendly Initiatives

Sep 23, 2011

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is making a couple of changes that are sure to please bicyclists: at a small gathering in Market Square Friday morning, the Port Authority announced it has equipped its entire fleet of buses with bike racks, an initiative ten years in the making.

The bike racks attach to the fronts of the buses, and each can hold two standard-sized bikes. PAT spokeswoman Heather Pharo said they were paid for through several grants and matching funds from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

City Parking Enforcement Scaled Back to 6 P.M.

Sep 20, 2011

For more than three months, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority has been able to give tickets to cars at unpaid meters until 10:00 PM every Monday through Saturday.

The four-hour ticketing extension will be short-lived, after Pittsburgh Council unanimously voted to repeal it during its Tuesday meeting. Meters will once again be watched from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM until January 1, at which point Council must revisit the issue.

Turnpike Workers’ Strike Not Likely

Sep 19, 2011

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission says the employee walkout in 2004 that forced it to collect a flat toll fee from motorists for a week isn't likely to occur this month as employees negotiate a new contract. The Commission is in talks with more than 1,500 Teamster union workers, whose deal is up at the end of the month. Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said both sides want to reach an agreement.

Fitzgerald: Create Regional Transit Agency

Sep 13, 2011

The Democratic candidate for Allegheny County Executive said the state should create a regional transit agency for southwestern Pennsylvania.

During a campaign address about working for senior citizens, former County Council President Rich Fitzgerald said the new agency would consolidate each county's current transit service into one larger entity to cut costs.

PennDOT Tries for Safer Work Zones

Sep 12, 2011

PennDOT is stepping up its efforts to protect road crews in work zones with safety training and "Operation Yellow Jacket".

Steve Cowan, PennDOT District 11 Safety Press Officer, said road workers are being trained periodically by safety and county management staff on how to handle work zone violations. He said in District 11 (Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence County) there have been two training sessions in the last three months, but employees, in the past year, have not yet reported a violation to the police.

Trucks, Drivers Pulled From Road In Crackdown

Sep 8, 2011

Pennsylvania State Police removed 163 vehicles and 39 drivers from service in a one-day coordinated inspection of commercial trucks carrying hazardous materials. Troopers examined 1,356 trucks August 31 looking for everything from incomplete files to hazardous placard violations. "Possibly things aren't checked properly on the paperwork as far as shipping papers and what's being transported," said Lieutenant Ray Cook. "Then we have some placard violations. Maybe the number of placards aren't (sic) present or the type of placards aren't (sic) present."

PennDOT Uses New Lane Markings

Sep 5, 2011

Motorists traveling Pennsylvania's state highways are starting to see new warnings painted on the pavement. The goal is to improve safety at intersections and sharp curves.

PennDOT is painting the word "SLOW" on the roadway as they approach tight curves. The marking is then followed by an arrow to alert motorists which way the road is turning, said PennDOT District 11 safety officer Steve Cowen.

Labor Day Parade: A 'March for Jobs'

Sep 4, 2011

Union leaders in Southwestern Pennsylvania want to use this year's Labor Day Parade to send a message to state and federal lawmakers: pass transportation legislation to put people back to work.

Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea said he expects 70,000 to march in the 2011 parade, with both unionized and non-union workers invited to take part in the "March for Jobs." This is the first year non-union workers will be marching.

State grants totaling $4 million are headed to 18 airports across Pennsylvania to upgrade facilities and improve safety. The awards range from $3,000 for the Butler County Airport to $750,000 for Pittsburgh International Airport. The money comes from the state's jet fuel tax. Each recipient must match 25% of the money granted.