Development & Transportation

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

Keith Srakocic / AP

A new report blames wintry weather conditions and poor maintenance for an incident in January 2018 in which 27 barges broke away on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh.

The National Transportation Safety Board's marine accident brief released Thursday said the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and Industry Terminal and Salvage Company did not properly maintain mooring cells or prevent river shoaling.

Lindsay Dill / Allegheny Land Trust

On today’s program: The Allegheny Land Trust is protecting a former mine from developers; water from military bases near Pittsburgh International Airport is being contaminated by toxic chemicals; U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb talks Russia investigation and abortion bans; the kids for cash scandal gets a musical; and a national tournament for blind bowlers comes to Pittsburgh.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Mario Ulizzi started training as a shoemaker in 1991. His then-girlfriend, now wife, Carla, came from a family of shoemakers, and her father suggested he try it. “It just became a part-time job and then a passion and a career,” he says. But sometimes he worries about what the constant exposure to glue, shoe polish, and dust means for his health.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to accepting a grant related to autonomous vehicles. Councilors said they will hold off on a final approval, pending a public hearing. The vote came after nearly an hour of public comment, with many residents expressing concerns about the idea of running an autonomous shuttle from Hazelwood to Oakland.

90.5 WESA

Port Authority of Allegheny County will only invest in two transit projects in 2020, according to a preliminary draft of the capital budget presented to board members Wednesday.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Riders on Pittsburgh’s Light Rail T system at Steel Plaza station may have noticed four tracks: one goes inbound, one goes outbound and two veer off to the east. But signs for the two east-bound tracks have been covered or removed and trains don't use them.

90.5 WESA

Drivers this holiday weekend can expect a lot of traffic in and around Pittsburgh.

AAA predicts this will be the most traveled Memorial Day holiday since 2005, with a 4 percent increase in travel by vehicle over last year in the mid-Atlantic area.

Roads will be busiest late Thursday and Friday afternoons as commuters mix with travelers, said Jim Garrity, spokesperson for AAA’s East Central office.

Walking down the streets of Greensboro, Pennsylvania, it feels a bit like a ghost town. There are houses, business signs, a post office, but only two cars drive by in 10 minutes and no one is walking the streets.

The small town in southern Pennsylvania is just across the West Virginia border. It sits on the banks of the Monongahela River, surrounded by small hills and patches of trees. In years past, the town has weathered the boom and bust of a pottery industry, river trade and coal. Lately, it has been more bust than boom.

Matt Smith / for Keystone Crossroads

Even today, nearly 20 years after Bethlehem Steel declared bankruptcy, and decades after it began its slow decline, there’s no consensus why exactly the iconic company tanked.

Gensler

An open-air music venue, food hall, hotel and playground are among the elements included in the master plan for the redeveloped Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District, which will be named “Centre District.” Detailed renderings of the $750 million project were unveiled to residents at a community meeting Wednesday evening.

Wikimedia Commons

The Hill Community Development Corporation is hoping a $55 million project to redevelop the New Granada Theater block will be a catalyst to continued development in the area. The project will include office and retail space as well as mixed-income housing units, according to CEO Marimba Milliones.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

A new federal tax shelter could kickstart a wave of investment in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. At a forum hosted by the Hill Community Development Corporation last Friday, opportunity zones were hailed as catalytic, transformative and lucrative.

Keith Srakocic / AP

A funicular that gives sightseers and commuters a panoramic view of Pittsburgh has reopened.

The Monongahela Incline was closed for more than three months because of flood damage.

The reopening had a slight hiccup when power went out in the neighborhood just an hour after service restarted Friday morning.

The Port Authority says power to the incline was restored later in the morning. Duquesne Light says the rest of the neighborhood should be back online soon.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Mobility researcher Brandon Daveler has spent years learning how to design and build better powered wheelchairs. But starting a company to sell the first model that can be fully submerged in water required a whole new education. “Business owners are the only people that will work an 80-hour week to avoid working 40 hours a week for somebody else,” he laughs.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

After more than three months of negotiation, city of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials say they hope to present a new cooperation agreement to council and PWSA’s board of directors within the month. The deadline for the agreement was extended 60 days, from May 4 to July 5.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

In a whirlwind tour of regional infrastructure on Monday, the chair of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Republicans and Democrats must find a way to rebuild the nation’s bridges, roads, mass transit and water and sewer systems.

Whole Foods Commits To Former Penn Plaza Site

Apr 29, 2019
90.5 WESA

Developer LG Realty has a new anchor tenant for the former site of Penn Plaza in East Liberty. It’s the same retailer first proposed several years ago – Whole Foods Market.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

In theory, Pennsylvania could be spending billions more dollars to update aging roads and bridges.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Fair housing advocates presented the City of Pittsburgh with an extensive list of policy recommendations this week. It’s the latest step for the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Task Force.

This is the first document of its kind produced by the task force, which represents dozens of organizations across all sectors. Members spent several years examining the policies of other cities, historical practices in Pittsburgh, and gathering feedback from the community.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

For a long time, Pittsburgh’s approach to development was to open the lid of the subsidy jar and throw out tax abatements like hard candies at a Halloween parade; new buildings eventually meant more tax revenue. Now, as interest in building in Pittsburgh continues to grow, the city wants to find a way to capitalize on it. That’s where inclusionary zoning comes in.

State Rep. Innamorato Takes To The Bus For 'Mobile Townhall'

Apr 24, 2019
Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Some riders on the Port Authority’s route 91 bus were met by their state representative on Wednesday morning. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESAa

After three hours of almost entirely supportive public comment, the Pittsburgh Planning Commission approved a trial run for a new affordable housing policy on Tuesday. 

'Moving Is Essential To Life'

Apr 24, 2019
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Helping someone move is often a favor done for a friend in a jam. By seemingly universal custom, the reward for this assistance is pizza and beer. But for some western Pennsylvanians moving is no favor; it’s part of the job. Personal trainer Nkem Chikwendu keeps other people fit. Mover Tony Turner makes sure clients’ possessions make it from point A to point B safely. Shoemaker Mario Ulizzi rebuilds and maintains quality footwear. And mobility researcher Brandon Daveler develops new wheelchair technologies.

Eastern Pennsylvania's Population Growth Bypasses Western PA

Apr 23, 2019
Carolyn Kaster / AP

The latest population estimates for the Keystone State, unveiled by the Census Bureau this week, show that Pennsylvania is growing — but not much, and not everywhere.

While the commonwealth added about 16,200 residents, it’s a slim increase for a state that now holds some 12.8 million residents and the growth was highly uneven.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A proposal to create a self-driving shuttle system between Oakland and Hazelwood continues to draw opposition from residents and activists. 

Matt Slocum / AP

The transition to an all-electronic tolling system has been nearly a decade in the making; the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission first commissioned a feasibility study in 2010.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

People walking along Forbes and Fifth avenues, and Ross and Grant streets will start to have a clearer path with less scaffolding as restoration of the Allegheny County Courthouse roof passes the halfway point. 

City of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections opened a digital service counter Tuesday with the launch of online licensing on its site, OneStopPGH. Department director Maura Kennedy described it as a “sea change,” and another step to “completely modernize” development in the city.

Several Affordable Housing Projects Advancing Throughout The City

Apr 12, 2019
Google Earth

The ribbon has been cut on a mixed-use development in Squirrel Hill. Krause Commons was developed on the former site of Poli’s Restaurant, which closed in 2005.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh delivers on sweeping views: hill views, river views, bridge views. Traveling toward Bloomfield across its eponymous bridge, for instance, reveals houses perched carefully on the lip of Skunk Hollow, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in neat rows and a convergence of the bridge, Main Street and Liberty Avenue: the Bloomfield Gateway.

Now, a view that hasn’t changed much over the last few decades could look dramatically different.

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