Transportation news

In all, 46 state-owned bridges in PennDOT District 11 (Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence Counties) will be posted with new or lowered weight restricted in the coming weeks. The move is meant to slow deterioration on the bridges as funding for major repairs remains uncertain. About 1,000 bridges statewide are considered structurally deficient, according to PennDOT.

Pittsburghers, your driving could use some improvement. At least that's according to Allstate Insurance Company’s ninth annual "Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report."

The Steel City ranked 22nd from the bottom out of 196 cities, based on Allstate claims data about car collision frequency.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

For drivers heading in and out of the South Hills in recent weeks, the daily commute has been trying at times.

Construction on the 5,888-foot-long Liberty Tunnel has prompted 24-hour closures of first the outbound side, then the inbound.

That's meant detours.

And while commuters making their way around the tunnel closures have likely seen workers on the north and south ends of the tunnel restoring concrete facades, much of the work inside the tubes has gone unseen.

After 40 years of planning and securing funding, work will begin August 27 on a new stretch on Route 219 in Somerset County.

The 11-mile, four-lane roadway will connect the existing Route 219 south of Somerset with the existing four-lane Meyersdale bypass.

The project will include new interchanges north of Meyersdale and at a crossing of the Mud Pike roadway.

The nine-member board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County closed a special meeting Friday without choosing a new CEO, meaning the task will be left to a new board that will feature nearly all-new faces. 

Currently the board is fully appointed by the County Executive, but a bill passed in the state legislature this spring changes the make up of the board to include 11 members appointed, in part, by the state. 

PennDOT is placing weight restrictions on about 1,000 bridges across the state as a result of the Legislature’s failure to approve funding for infrastructure.

Secretary Barry Schoch said new or harsher weight restrictions will be posted in the next four to five months.                    

How to fund transportation improvements hit a traffic jam this summer.

House Republican leaders wanted to spend less than the $2.5 billion the Senate passed, and neither can agree on where to get the money.

To try to break the gridlock, the House Appropriations Committee hosted a hearing in Pittsburgh Wednesday to explore how investments in infrastructure can generate economic growth.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Starting now, riders along the P1 East Busway will be able to track the vehicles in real time through the Port Authority's website, either on a computer, tablet or smartphone. The new program allows commuters to see either arrival times at specific stops or a map which shows where buses are.

“What it means on a cold, inclement day … whether you’re at home or at work you can look to see where your bus is to know when to go to your bus stop,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Pennsylvania has joined five other states and the U.S. Justice Department in filing suit to block the proposed merger of US Airways and American Airlines. The civil lawsuit claims the consolidation would hurt competition and lead to higher prices for flyers.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and her counterparts in Arizona — the home of American West which merged with US Airways in 2005 — Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. are challenging the $11 billion consolidation that was announced in February.

The inbound Liberty Tunnel will close around-the-clock Wednesday at 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Aug. 30.

The Andy Warhol Bridge will be closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic starting at 6 p.m. Thursday for sidewalk and deck repairs, according to the Allegheny County Department of Public Works. The bridge will remain closed through 6 a.m. on Monday.

The installation of the Knit the Bridge project is also planned for this weekend. The project is expected to be the largest “yarn bomb” ever in the United States. Installation will begin Saturday morning and be completed by Sunday evening.

The 44,000 motorists that travel Route 28 daily between Pittsburgh and Millvale can expect some additional congestion, as the fourth phase of a major reconstruction project begins Monday.

Traffic on northbound and southbound Route 28 will be shifted into new configurations between East Ohio Street and the 40th Street Bridge.

As students start heading back to school this year, they may find their bus routes increasing to avoid weight-restricted bridges across the state.

The head of PennDOT says lawmakers will find out in the next few weeks which bridges will be limited to heavy traffic, due to the Legislature’s failure to pass a transportation funding bill.

Secretary Barry Schoch said the restrictions will affect industry trucks, school buses and emergency responders.

Flickr user a440

The Senate is expected to vote this week on a budget bill that could rehabilitate aging bridges across Pennsylvania and around the country.

Pennsylvania leads the nation with 5,543 structurally deficient bridges, 86 percent of which are state-owned.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) says the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill contains several provisions to directly address bridge repairs and broader transportation priorities that are vital to the commonwealth.

PA Turnpike Tolls Going Up Again

Jul 30, 2013

Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase for a sixth consecutive year come January.

The Turnpike Commission will continue to drive motorists toward E-ZPass with its latest toll hike in an effort to get toll money in advance.

Tracking the Tank: What factors into gas prices?

Jul 24, 2013
Jeffrey Rolinc / flickr

Following a national price peak in February of $3.75 per gallon, gas prices are not predicted to reach any highs this summer, but numbers are still steadily rising.  Many different factors contribute to the cost of fuel including refinery upkeep, Middle East politics and consumer demand. Gregg Laskoski, Senior Problem Analyst for explains the regional gasoline situation.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed the Public Private Partnerships (P3) for Transportation Act in 2012, which gives PennDOT and other transportation agencies a chance to partner with the private sector to improve services or create new projects. Now two proposals are ready for approval from the P3 board.

“We recently had a period where we solicited ideas from the private sector, and we received six ideas and two of them will be admitted to the P3 board this fall,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trassatt said.

Since 2008, there have been nearly 10,000 automobile crashes with 96 fatalities statewide along Route 30.

The Pennsylvania State Police are partnering with municipal police departments to initiate a crackdown on aggressive driving along Route 30.

State police spokesman Adam Reed, said the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic initiative, or “HEAT on 30,” will span Pennsylvania’s Route 30.

More than 190 million vehicles travel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike each year — about 520,000 a day.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have worked to make that drive as easy as possible, and now they are asking for your help.

PennDOT and the commission have released a survey looking for travelers’ opinions on the services the agencies provide.

PennDOT and police across Pennsylvania are partnering this Independence Day to crack down on impaired drivers on the roads, while the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is focusing their attention on the rivers.

PennDOT is conducting a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign now through July 7.

Erin Waters-Trasatt, spokeswoman for PennDOT, said the best way for drivers who have been drinking to stay safe is to have a designated driver.

What's Next for Pennsylvania Transportation?

Jun 24, 2013

A version of the Pennsylvania transportation funding bill passed last week is expected to be voted on in the State House of Representatives Tuesday.

But State Senator Jim Ferlo is concerned that the bill does not allocate enough money for infrastructure maintenance. He's also opposed to a provision that would allow partial privatization of select bus lines. State Senator Jim Ferlo talks about why he voted against the funding bill and legislation that would change the structure of the Port Authority of Allegheny County Transit board.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

If you find yourself sitting in traffic on the Liberty Bridge every day you might be losing $56 a week thanks to that congestion. 

The national transportation spending advocacy group TRIP (The Road Information Program) released its report of the most costly congestion in Pittsburgh this week and found that in total, Pittsburghers are losing $1 billion a year thanks to poor road conditions and design. 

While waiting for the bus that takes you to work Monday morning, you might be surprised when it zips right past you.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) is eliminating nearly 430 stops along 36 bus routes beginning Sunday as the first of several phases of bus stop consolidations.

Spokeswoman Heather Pharo said PAT is only eliminating stops that receive little to no use.

“When I say little to no use, most of these stops were actually used by zero people, and we monitored them in fall of 2012,” Pharo said.

Fifty new bike racks will be installed throughout downtown by the end of this month, bringing the total of city-installed bike racks to more than 500.

Stephen Patchan, Pittsburgh’s bicycle-pedestrian coordinator, said adding more bike parking downtown is intended to spur business growth.

“The more bicycle-friendly business districts are, the higher customer capacity they generally have, which equates to more foot traffic for local businesses,” he said.

A Pittsburgh taxi company wants to see more green when you step into their yellow cabs.

Pittsburgh Transportation Group (PTG) is asking the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for a rate hike.

Yellow Cab’s parent PTG wants a surcharge of 17 cents a mile to replace all others, including the $1.15 fee on the flag drop.

This would raise the current rates of $1.75 a mile to $1.92 a mile.

Company President Jamie Campolongo said the current surcharge is outdated and gives drivers who make short trips more money than those who drive longer trips.

The advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) plans to hold a rally on June 4 in the Capitol Rotunda to call for funding and better conditions for public transit in Pennsylvania.

PPT Community Organizer Helen Gerhardt said they plan on visiting the office of every state legislator to tell them why public transit is crucial.

“Many people don’t realize just how important public transit is to the urban tax base, which then supports the entire state budget including funds for roads and bridges,” Gerhardt said.

A Thousand Mile River Voyage in a 51 Year Old Canoe

May 30, 2013
Point to Cairo / Facebook

Ian Davis of Green Tree is embarking Saturday on a 1,000 mile journey from Point State Park to Cairo, Illinois in an old wooden and canvas-covered canoe. He hopes to complete the trip by August as he raises awareness and funds for his nonprofit company that teaches children to become "world class communicators." He recently spoke with WESA reporter Jessica Nath about his plans and the back story of how he acquired the canoe.

Photo courtesy of Ian Davis

When David Burt bought his canoe in 1964, he thought that he would be the one paddling it on long-distance journeys.

But his life was cut short in 1966, and now the current owner of the canoe is embarking on a 1,000-mile adventure in remembrance of David.

Ian Davis, 52, of Green Tree will begin his journey in Point State Park with the hope of finishing this August in Cairo, Illinois with his 51-year-old canoe intact.

Mark Nootbar / 90.5 WESA

The latest report from a Washington D.C.-based pro-transportation investment think tank finds the average Pittsburgh driver is losing $1,418 a year due to the poor conditions of the region’s transportation infrastructure and mass transit systems. 

The Road Information Program (TRIP) Policy and Research Director Frank Moretti said that comes in the form of gas and time wasted sitting in traffic congestion, accidents due at least in part to poor road conditions and design, and fuel inefficiency and undue wear and tear on vehicles due to bad road conditions.

When choosing a way to get around for the next few years, eight out of 10 adults would rather drive out of the dealership with a gas vehicle than an electric one.

According to a survey by AAA, 30 percent of adults said they would not buy an electric car because of limits with mileage. Twenty-six percent said it was because of cost.