The Republican candidate for Allegheny County Executive continued his policy rollout Thursday by detailing his plans for the Pittsburgh International Airport. D. Raja says that if elected, he'd focus on three ways to develop the airport: first, creating an "innovation zone"; second, increasing demand for air traffic; third, vamping up public transit from the city to the Findlay Township site.
Raja said his innovation zone would provide a business atmosphere for high-tech startup companies from Pittsburgh universities, hopefully specializing in the production of Marcellus Shale byproducts and safety technology. The Mount Lebanon businessman said he'd encourage Marcellus Shale drilling on the airport property to help pay for the innovation zone. "The way the [Federal Aviation Administration] regulations are as of now, all the revenues that come from the airport need to stay at the airport," said Raja. "So, that's part of the reason to have the innovation zone at the airport, plus there are other ones, like we're already getting a tax refund there, and so on."
To increase air traffic, Raja said he plans to add jobs to the regional economy and to stem the population decline, in addition to scrapping the car rental tax that he said discourages business.
Finally, Raja said he'd refrain from installing an expensive light rail line to the airport. He would rather add dedicated bus lines to run there from Oakland and Downtown.
Raja faces former County Council President Rich Fitzgerald in the November 8 general election.