Private-Public Partnership To Look at Transportation In Region

Oct 1, 2015

A Port Authority bus makes its way through downtown Pittsburgh.

The newly launched Regional Transportation Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RTA) is hoping it will be able to improve connectivity – and with that also improve the quality of life in the region.

The public-private partnership that will look at transportation issues in the 10-county region through a community lens was launched Wednesday.

The RTA will be led by a 22-person, mostly-male, steering committee.  It's members represent both the private and public sector throughout the region.

Brian Heery, CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee said there are many people working to improve the quality of life in the region in the health, housing and commerce sectors.

“We need to support their work with better transportation. With a vision that looks out 30 to 40 years. We need better ways to get in and out of the city, we need better ways to get from one side of our region to another. And we need better ways for visitors to get here and get around,” he said. “To be better forty years from now, we need to be planning now.”

Their first phase will be an “Imagine Transportation” crowdsourcing initiative that will identify transportation priorities.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the committee will ask questions about a range of issues including roads, ports, bridges, transit, rail and bike infrastructure.

“As the economy changes, as we change as a region, how do we adapt to that and how do we make sure that transportation which is such a critical part of economic development and economic growth continue to do that,” said Fitzgerald.   

More than 700 stakeholder groups will be asked what they see as transportation problems and what they would do to solve them. The groups will include corporations, labor unions, school districts and library systems.

“For some,” said Ken Zapinski, Vice President of Community Development at the Allegheny Conference, “it could be something as large as a new highway or a new tunnel. But for others it could be something as simple as a new traffic light, intersection improvements or extension of a heightened biking trail through their downtown.”

Then, the RTA will have to figure out how to fund these solutions.