Margaret J. Krauss

Development and Transportation Reporter

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA's development and transportation reporter. She previously worked for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide reporting initiative that covers problems facing Pennsylvania's cities and possible solutions. Before joining Keystone Crossroads, Margaret produced a 48-part radio series about Pittsburgh's lesser-known history, biking 2,000 miles around the region to do so.

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Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 Institute on Wednesday awarded $400,000 to projects throughout the 10-county region that tackle significant mobility issues.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority faces significant organizational issues—crumbling infrastructure, lead issues, steep debt—but soaring rates of short-term disability are not one of them, said interim executive director Bob Weimar.

Courtesy of Walsh Construction

One of the largest public-private partnerships in Pennsylvania, the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, is nearing the end of its construction phase. The project promised to provide Pennsylvania with 558 brand new bridges to replace aging structures by 2018.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will burden communities that most depend on public transportation with higher costs and less frequent service, according to protesters who gathered Thursday in Braddock to speak out against the plan.

Margaret Krauss / 90.5 WESA

On a recent afternoon, Steve Kubrick climbed to the brand new roof of one of his buildings to look at the last seven years of his life, poured into rebuilding the former Alcoa Research Laboratory in New Kensington. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Before presenting initial findings on the state of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Monday, Steve Steckler of the consulting firm Infrastructure Management Group, Inc. said, “none of them are very good.”

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

It may not look like anything’s happening at the Produce Terminal in Pittsburgh’s Strip District neighborhood, but the building's developer expects to ink a final contract with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and begin renovation by the end of the year.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Uber has scrapped plans to lease space in one of three remaining buildings on the 28-acre Almono site where the company’s test track for self-driving cars is located.

Uber signed a lease last spring for a portion of the roundhouse building, which once housed trains for repairs and maintenance.

Cost estimates to renovate the roundhouse came back significantly higher than expected and the building has been reabsorbed into the larger Almono development plans.

Uber declined to comment on the record about the decision.

Natasha Dean / Rescue Street Farms

A long abandoned social club in Spring Hill, roughly 2 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh, is getting a new lease on life. Nearly 20 years after the Workingmen’s Beneficial Union, or WBU, closed its doors, it will reopen as an event space and brewery this fall.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Johnstown City Council was supposed to vote Wednesday to adopt an amended recovery plan in order to stay in Act 47, Pennsylvania’s assistance program for financially distressed communities. The vote was tabled.

This month marks Johnstown’s 25th year in the program; the city wouldn’t be able to cover its expenses without the tools the program provides, such as being able to restructure debt and collect a higher local services tax. So why the hold-up?

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

After years of negotiations, road and utility work, and site preparation, redevelopment could begin on the 178-acre Almono site as early as next week.

On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf toured the Almono site, which sits along the Monongahela River and is Pittsburgh's largest remaining brownfield. The tour's highlight was the old Mill 19 building, which extends for nearly one-third of a mile—a vast building on a vast piece of land. Just outside the building is the newly finished Signature Boulevard, a complete street with room for cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania could see more resources to combat the opioid crisis if President Donald Trump heeds a federal commission, which advised him earlier this week to declare a national emergency.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Development and rehabilitation projects throughout Pittsburgh continue to change the city’s fabric. City Council voted Monday to ensure historic structures are protected in the process.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A large granite stone fell from the corner of the historic Frick Building in downtown Pittsburgh early Sunday morning, crashing into the crosswalk below.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft began operating in Pennsylvania cities in 2014, but have had divergent effects on public transit agencies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Every day in Pittsburgh money comes in and money goes out, paying for police, firefighters and street lights. Anything that’s visible, and some things that aren’t, all have a place in the city’s budget. At its core, a budget is simply an itemized rundown of likely income and expenses, the contents of which a committee will begin to hash out in August, and by December, City Council will take a final vote.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The historic Hunt Armory in Shadyside has been through a lot. It housed weapons and a unit of the Army National Guard, hosted home shows and polo matches, survived a fire in 2010 and a failed redevelopment attempt in 2016.

Those plans, for an Olympic-size ice rink and cafe, were sunk by lack of funding. In May, the Urban Redevelopment Authority requested new proposals that preserve the building and provide community recreation space.

Proponents of self-driving cars say they'll make the world safer, but autonomous vehicles need to predict what bicyclists are going to do. Now researchers say part of the answer is to have bikes feed information to cars.

A few years ago on Google's campus, Nathaniel Fairfield arranged an unusual lunch break.

He asked a bunch of staff to hop on bikes and ride around and around a self-driving car to collect data. "It was kind of gorgeous," he says.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

On Thursday evening, more than 60 people gathered at the Union Project in Highland Park to learn how to safely intervene in incidents of bullying or harassment. The event was organized by the local chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and Jewish social justice group Bend the Arc.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

At a renewable energy roundtable discussion held Friday, Mayor Bill Peduto and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) agreed that climate change is the biggest threat facing civilization, and that in the absence of federal leadership, states and cities will have to step up.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Nearly seven months after Pittsburgh City Council voted to create a fund for affordable housing and neighborhood rehabilitation, it’s still not clear where the money will come from.

David Wilson / Flickr

Johnstown’s city council last week authorized the administration to collect outstanding city loans made to businesses, an important piece of attracting new economic development to the area.

Federal dollars allowed Johnstown to make the original loans, which funded job training and secured office space, among other things. They were meant to be part of a revolving fund, said city manager Arch Liston. Historically, he said, the city hasn’t been great at calling those loans in, which means there’s less money to help new businesses.

Paul McCarthy / Flickr

As part of an ongoing project to map all water lines in the city, two contract crews for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will inspect water line connections in parts of the North Side over the next two weeks.

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The Community College of Allegheny County has been issued a warning by its accrediting body, which requires the college to re-evaluate how it measures student learning.

Nick Amoscato / Flickr

City of Pittsburgh officials want to change how developers qualify for tax breaks in order to incentivize projects in underserved neighborhoods, create affordable housing and jobs, or promote sustainable infrastructure.

David Clarke pulls up the newly launched website from Pittsburgh’s Department of Finance and points out all the different ways residents can search for properties.

“You can either enter a parcel number or a street you’re interested in,” said Clarke, business intelligence manager for the city’s finance department. “Or we just have featured properties up here that we think people would be particularly interested in.”

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Speaking Friday at the National Energy Technology Laboratory near Pittsburgh, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry emphasized the link between energy innovation and national security and talked about what he sees as coal’s strong future.

Calling his position as energy secretary “the coolest job” he’s ever had, Perry thanked the standing room-only crowd of scientists and researchers for their work in advancing energy technology, specifically when it comes to coal.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Just off Penn Avenue, where Bloomfield meets Friendship and borders Garfield, a gate opens onto a narrow courtyard surrounded by low-slung storage garages. They may look as though they’ve seen better days, but Kristin Hughes thinks their best lie ahead.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

It’s easy to keep track of time from most streets downtown: the Allegheny County Courthouse chimes play every 15 minutes, as well as strike the hour; twice a day they sing.

“Noon and five,” said Jim Reardon, the county’s director of facilities management. “It counts off whatever hour it has to be ... and then we play a particular song, whichever song is picked for that day.”

Ken Lund / Flickr

This story was originally published by Allegheny Front on July 8, 2016. 

Look at a satellite map of Pennsylvania and you’ll see a lot of green. Part of the reason: There’s a ton of water in the state, and much of it resides in the ground. But what that glance at the map won’t reveal is many lakes. (OK—there’s Lake Erie, of course, but hold that thought.)

Pittsburgh artist Travis Mitzel wanted to know what was up with that.

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