Development & Transportation

We cover how people move about the region, as well as trends in housing and commercial development.

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 Sun / 90.5 WESA

Honking car horns, screeching tires and the thunderous rumble of truck engines surround passersby on East Ohio Street. The street, while not Pittsburgh’s busiest, is among the noisiest. 

Matt Slocum / AP

Motorists on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be hit next year with a 6 percent increase in the price of tolls.

The turnpike commission on Tuesday voted for the rate increase that will take effect Jan. 7.

A typical fare for a passenger car will increase from $1.23 to $1.30 for E-ZPass customers and from $1.90 to $2.10 for those paying in cash.

The new rates won't apply at the Delaware River Bridge westbound cashless tolling point in the Philadelphia suburbs. In a few areas, the new rates won't take effect until April.

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.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The latest plans for the Forbes Avenue Betterment Project in Oakland were revealed by PennDOT, Carnegie Mellon University and other planning partners at a public meeting Monday night.

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Construction of a 33-unit affordable housing complex in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood is expected to start this week. Action-Housing Inc. will build the six-story Krause Commons at the former Poli’s Restaurant property on Murray Avenue.

Lena Andrews, development officer with Action-Housing, said the site was ideal because of the community surrounding it.

“We really like to build our projects in strong neighborhoods that have access to a lot of amenities,” Andrews said.

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 Peduto administration is hoping a recently passed program aimed at reducing the number of unused properties held by the federal government will help the city take control of the former VA site on Washington Boulevard.

Pittsburgh wants to take control of the unused VA site and convert it into a first responder training facility and a storage area for heavy equipment

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.

90.5 WESA

A grant from the Hillman Foundation will help the Port Authority of Allegheny County in its search for a new CEO.

The $100,000 gift will cover their $91,575 contract with Krauthamer & Associates of Maryland, plus a portion of $20,000 in expenses. Krauthamer recruited Allegheny County Airport CEO Christina Cassotis. 

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

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.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pittsburgh officials said Monday that global terror attacks have prompted new safety precautions for local Fourth of July celebrations.

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich promised a noticeably heavier law enforcement presence, including plain clothes police officers and more uniformed patrols near firework viewing areas like Point State Park.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities have lived on a hill in Millvale for more than 100 years: they started a hospital and a high school and taught generations of children.

But over the years their numbers have dwindled, and the order has decided to sell its 25-acre campus, Mount Alvernia.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The implementation of cashless fares on the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s light rail system has been put on hold until the interim CEO completes a review of concerns about the process.

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After the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, or SPC, tabled the four-lane toll road extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway in March to gather more information, the 10-county planning agency voted Monday night to add the highway segment to its list of recommended projects.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is using a quarter-million dollars in state grants to launch its effort to have a fossil-free vehicle fleet but 2030.

The funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Alternative Fuels Grant program must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the city.

The first grant is worth $80,000 and will be used to purchase as many as 10 electric vehicles.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A summit held Friday at Aspinwall Riverfront Park focused on raising awareness about how to safely navigate the region’s rivers, particularly near fixed-crest dams: long concrete barriers that hold back the water.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

A crowd of about 30 people gathered at the former Penn Plaza apartments in East Liberty on Thursday, where the development’s owners are tearing down the remaining building. 

Vadim Ghirda / AP

Pittsburgh-based RE2 Robotics penned a contract this week with the U.S. Air Force to create robotic pilots for military planes.

clio1789 / Flickr

There are three big challenges when it comes to eradicating lead in Pittsburgh’s water system: locating lead lines, removing them and paying for it. On Wednesday, state senators approved two bills that would provide the city with the legal authority and money to help rebuild its entire system.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

Though Pittsburgh’s bus rapid transit project, or BRT, might not be eligible for federal funding, the planning process is moving forward with a series of public meetings to gather feedback on street design and where to put new BRT stations.

Jason Pratt / Flickr

Thanks to Ike and the Interstate Highway System, summer heralds the well-loved American tradition of road trips.

But that jaunt to Florida or North Carolina doesn’t have to mean four wheels, it can mean two.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is seeking public input as it finalizes plans for Pittsburgh's long-awaited bus rapid transit system.

Riders can offer suggestions at upcoming neighborhood meetings about street design, station locations and what amenities they’d like to see at each station, like benches and Connect Card machines. They'll also offer general updates and allow for questions about the planning process, spokesman Adam Brandolph said.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh is working to address the issue of lead in drinking water "on every front," according to Mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Locks and dams on the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers are crucial to recreation, commerce and flood control. But local officials are worried the federal budget for 2018 won’t include money for an ongoing locks and dam project.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

A route was selected, preliminary studies were planned and local officials intended to submit grant applications to fund the Bus Rapid Transit corridor in the fall.

Those plans may now be on hold.

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget provides no funding for new projects under the federal Capital Investment Grant which was expected to provide about $80 to $100 million for the roughly $233 million project, said Robert Rubinstein, executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Nowhere in the country can someone work 40 hours a week at a minimum-wage job and afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to a study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

On average, a Pennsylvanian earning minimum wage would have to work 83 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom rental.

There are a lot of misconceptions about low-income earners. Primarily, that they’re not working hard enough, said Phyllis Chamberlain, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

James Willamor / Flickr

Last week, President Donald Trump proposed privatizing air traffic control, separating it from the Federal Aviation Administration and putting it under the control of a notprofit corporation. The administration argued doing so would cut costs and help modernize the system.

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