New Report Outlines Ideas For How Southwestern PA Can Become A Transportation Innovator

Mar 8, 2017

Nearly two-dozen representatives from southwestern Pennsylvania worked together to come up with ideas for how to improve transportation in the area.

The Regional Transportation Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania released its findings Wednesday in the report Imagine Transportation 2.0.

The alliance surveyed more than 500 community and governmental groups to build a list of seven broad overarching principles and “50 ideas to explore.”

Regional Transportation Alliance Co-Chair Brian Heery, Mitsubishi Electric Power Products CEO lays out the seven principals at an event Wednesday on Pittsburgh's North Side.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Among those ideas are traditional solutions such as upgrading Route 228 and Bates Street in Oakland, and more modern ideas such as building infrastructure for alternative fuels and park-and-bike lots.

“The 50 ideas represent the initial cut at what we think a good set of projects will be,” said Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. “I’m sure it will end up different once we go through the entire regional process.” 

Yablonsky said some projects will be able to happen quickly, which others may require a longer-term plan.

“But at the end of the day this is about implementing improvements to the existing system as well as adding new mobility options that make our transportation future better,” he said.

Many of the ideas would require substantial infrastructure investment.

"If we're to get federal support, we have to be in Washington in August," said Mayor Bill Peduto of lining up federal transportation dollars.

President Donald Trump has promised to allocate $1 trillion on infrastructure

Alliance co-chair and Lawrence County Commissioner Steve Craig said the goal is to be part of the transportation wave of the future, rather than being left behind. Peduto agreed.

"We have some really great opportunities to take the lead in this country on 21st Century urban mobility and it will mean some changes,” Peduto said. “And obviously whenever anything changes, there is a lot of concern. So we'll have a dedicated community driven process to get us there."

Craig said he sees a future where transportation is not seen as an asset you purchase like a car or a bike, but as a service you employ.

“That’s a change for me, but for young folks, this is the world they know,” he said. “And the young folks are going to occupy this system, this world. We’ve got to craft it so it works for them.”

Peduto said the plan must be conducive to all modes of transportation and must focus on connecting people, jobs and communities.

Yablonsky said the two biggest issues facing the Pittsburgh region are developing a robust workforce and building an interconnected transportation system. He said he hopes this plan can help to address both.