News

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. 

Take a Ride with the Gateway Clipper Fleet

Jun 20, 2013
Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The Gateway Clipper is celebrating its 55th year on Pittsburgh's three rivers. Going for a ride on any of the Clipper's six ships gives Pittsburghers a chance to travel under its famous bridges and listen to their voice echo against Pittsburgh steel. 

The Clipper offers one-hour sightseeing cruises, shuttle services to the North Shore for sporting events and specialty and theme cruises. The fleet is also available for event rentals. 

An effort to slap a $100 surcharge on speeding tickets to help fund mass transit in Pennsylvania looks to be dead in the water, as one House member said Wednesday.

The proposal is part of a $2.5 billion plan to fund roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure that has passed in the Senate. The surcharge revenue would be specifically routed for public transportation.

In case you had doubts that buildings full of borrow-able books and artwork are a good thing, the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences and The Campaign for Grade-Level Reporting has released a report that says they are. 

Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners was released on Thursday and discusses ways libraries and museums are supporting children.

Study author Mimi Howard said the goal of this paper was to focus on the development of early literacy skills by using these public resources.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Discrimination, school funding and teen pregnancy grabbed the attention of high school students from around the world who gathered for a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh-sponsored video conference Wednesday.

The state Senate has approved compromise legislation that would change the structure of the Port Authority of Allegheny County Transit (PAT) board.

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure by Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) that would have increased membership on the PAT board from  nine to 11 with the county executive getting only one appointment compared to the current system where he appoints all board members.

A state Senate committee has approved a scaled-down version of the governor's pension overhaul plan to address the commonwealth's pension debt.

The bill was re-written to include just one of the three prongs of Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal — one that has been said to be far more palatable to legislators. The measure would enroll most future state and school employees into a 401(k)-style plan, instead of the traditional defined-benefit plan that locks in payouts according to a formula known in advance.

Photo of test install courtesy Amanda Gross

Starting August 10, one of Pittsburgh’s famous steel bridges will be getting a makeover when the largest “yarn bomb” ever in the United States blankets the Andy Warhol Bridge.

Amanda Gross, outreach coordinator for Fiberart International, is the lead artist of a project called Knit the Bridge, in which she and 1,267 volunteers from all over Allegheny County have spent the last year knitting panels to cover the bridge.

Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed a bill that gives 911 systems across the state a one-year warning that they will no longer be able to turn to the state for all the funding they want. 

House Bill 583, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Barrar (R-Chester), provides for a one-year transition period to a system that will base disbursements on funds that have actually been collected through the 911 surcharge rather than simply fully funding all requests. 

Courtesy Pennsylvania Commonwealth Media Services

Ellen Gregory Robb of Montgomery County had been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her husband, Rafael Robb, for many years — until one day she decided she had had enough.

Her 50th birthday was right around the corner as she embarked on her new life.

But when her brother, Gary Gregory, came to pick her up to celebrate, he realized her new beginning had been cut short.

Three big issues have dominated the state budget debate, but with less than two weeks before June 30, one lawmaker is suggesting poor schools are getting short shrift.

"Pensions, transportation, liquor — they're being resolved as we speak," said Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia). "Education has not been resolved, and it can actually affect whether we get a budget or not."

Flickr user wildcellist

It can be hard to jump into a new location without understanding the local customs, and Pittsburgh, friendly as it might be, is wrapped in layers of seemingly impenetrable culture.

But do not fret: As part of our, well, new web series, "New to the 'Burgh," here’s a handy guide to circumventing the trap doors and pitfalls of life in Pittsburgh.

1. DO be aware of the Pittsburgh Left

Negotiations over a $2.5 billion plan to fix Pennsylvania's roads and bridges could include getting rid of state-set wages that increase the cost of road repair projects.

Many House Republicans have long opposed of the state's prevailing wage law, saying it typically sets the pay for public works projects at union rates, and boosts costs to local governments by as much as 20 percent.

State Senate GOP leaders have presented a counter-offer to the state House's liquor privatization plan, though they admit they don't yet have the votes to pass it out of their chamber.

According to the latest numbers from the Federal Trade Commission, 26 percent of all securities fraud is perpetrated against seniors, but seniors only represent 14 percent of the nation’s population.

In the past, discrimination disputes cost thousands in lawyers’ fees and trials, not to mention the year it took to even get into court. 

Now the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is offering a free mediation program so the dispute can be settled within 10 days without legal and court costs.

Calling it an “overreach” of the state’s power and a “new frontier,” three female members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are blasting recently passed legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from offering policies that cover abortion services in the soon-to-be-launched Pennsylvania health exchange. 

Reps. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny), Madeline Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) said the solution might lie in the next election cycle.

More than 500,000 people attend the 4th of July extravaganza every year, flooding the banks of the Allegheny River, Point State Park and the North Shore river-walk for the annual Three Rivers Regatta.

This year should be no different.

The powerboat championships, rock n’ roll and the “Anything That Floats” boat race are returning, but the 2013 Regatta Board has added some new features for this year’s celebration.

Haynes to Debut Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration in Pittsburgh

Jun 18, 2013
Warren Haynes
warrenhaynes.net

A symphonic hall is probably the last place you would expect to hear the music of The Grateful Dead. However, the Pittsburgh Pops, with special guest guitarist Warren Haynes, will present a symphonic celebration of Jerry Garcia.

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Steve Sokol

Jun 18, 2013
Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

After stints in New York and Berlin Steve Sokol came to the Steel City to head the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. He talks with WESA Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson about his reading choices which, as you might expect from someone whose job addresses world affairs, includes books with an international focus.

The Business of Non-Profits: Part II

Jun 18, 2013
Marcus Charleston / Essential Pittsburgh

Business Contributor Rebecca Harris, speaks with Peggy Outon, the Executive Director, Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University  in part two of her series on the business of nonprofits.This week the focus is on women who comprise the majority of people working at nonprofits.

On the Trail: Travel Through Frick Park and Hot Dog Dam

Jun 18, 2013
Ed Razanauskas / flickr

For hikers and bikers alike, Frick Park has been a favorite Pittsburgh destination for years.  Visitors can enjoy beautiful trails like Tranquil Trail and take their furry friends to cool off at “Hot Dog Dam.” Software engineer, Paul Heckbert has been riding Pittsburgh's bike trails for nearly 20 years.  He shares his love of the region's trails as a member of the Steel Valley Trail Council, and today tells us about this beautiful piece of nature in Pittsburgh.  Catch a moment on the trail with Paul Heckbert.

A study out of the University of Pittsburgh has found similar brain abnormalities in concussion and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Saaed Fakran, an assistant professor of neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the study, said it's too early to make any conclusions based on this research, but he hopes to follow up on it.

The study looked at concussion patients ranging in age from 12 to 28 who have had some sort of trauma, persistent abnormality but have a conventional CT and MRI.

State Senate Republicans are expected to offer their own counter-proposal to the House's plan to phase out state wine and spirits stores and privatize the state's wholesale operation.

But details of the proposal are still under wraps. When asked for a status update on the bill, Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) said, with a laugh, "That's a great question."

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl met with his likely successor, City Councilman Bill Peduto, Monday for the first time since February.

Peduto was optimistic before entering the mayor’s corner office on the fifth floor of City Hall, saying it was a chance to “bury the hatchet” and “smoke the peace pipe.” Peduto said his number one priority going into the meeting was discussing a budget the two could agree on.

After the roughly 22-minute meeting, Peduto said Ravenstahl looked “subdued” yet “positive” and “professional.”

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd announced Monday that he will be stepping down from his elected office to become the first executive director of “Allies for Children.”

Having served 5 ½ years on council, Dowd will resign next month. A special election for his replacement is expected in November.

Dowd, a former educator and member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education (2003-07), said “Allies for Children” is an opportunity to return to his love of educating children.

While military personnel fight to protect U.S. citizens’ rights, a Pennsylvania senator is fighting to protect their fundamental right to vote.

The Senate State Government Committee has unanimously approved a bill that would allow military and overseas voters to return their absentee ballots electronically.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Matt Smith (D - Allegheny County), said the number one goal is to make sure every serviceman and woman’s vote is counted.

Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

Anyone with Internet access will be able to read the 2012 financial interest statements disclosing gifts accepted by public officials — like Turkish robes for the governor and Waterford crystal for the lieutenant governor.

But after five years, the state Ethics Commission doesn't keep such records on hand. Within the past few years, the Pennsylvania State Archives decided it would stop taking them, and it destroyed old disclosure forms going back to 1979.

On Sunday, 75 black high school students, mostly from the Pittsburgh area, began intensive training sessions to become community leaders.

The young men are taking part in the 7th annual Black Male Leadership Development Institute now through June 23 at Robert Morris University in partnership with the Urban League of Pittsburgh.  

A new study finds that hands-free devices in cars aren’t as safe as people think.

Research by AAA found that hands-free technology in cars gives drivers a false sense of security.

Bruce Hamilton, manager of research and communications with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said an increase in mental workload slows reaction time, causing drivers to scan the road less and miss visual cues.

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