Development & Transportation

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

Robert Strovers / Flickr

For the next two months, the Allegheny County Sanitation Authority will send drilling rigs to 13 locations around the county to take samples as deep as 300 feet. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

*This story was updated at 2:55 p.m. March 27, 2017 Uber's self-driving cars will be back in operation Monday afternoon three days after the company announced it had pulled the cars off the street. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP File Photo

Population data has a way of freaking people out. After all, population determines federal allocation dollars, which trickle down to the state, county, and local levels, said Peter Borsella, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, which released county and metro-area population estimates on Thursday. 

So let’s get this over with: From 2015 to 2016 Pennsylvania waved goodbye to just fewer than 8,000 people. Most counties lost population, though 19 posted some growth.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Sabrina Spiher Robinson and her husband Ted Robinson live on a hill in Upper Lawrenceville. From the set of steep steps leading to their front door, they can see the Allegheny River. But mostly what they see are construction scars.  

 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Bike Pittsburgh survey from earlier this month found that about half of local cyclists approve of self-driving cars on city streets.

The advocacy group launched the survey in an effort to find out how cyclists and pedestrians felt about the driverless technology and about 800 people weighed in.

Rusty Clark / Flickr

As the first day of spring arrived Monday, so too did the yearly bloom of orange barrels. PennDOT announced 32 projects on local state-owned roads and bridges, which will cost an estimated $220 million. The largest undertaking is the rehabilitation of Interstate 279, known as the Parkway North.

“Currently we’re doing prep work in both directions that require single-lane restrictions during the daylight hours, overnight and on weekends,” said PennDOT Spokesman Steve Cowan.

Cowan said that prep work is expected to continue through March 30.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are in the midst of multi-year building booms. More than 4,000 apartment units were built in the two cities last year.

For many years in Pittsburgh, new apartment buildings weren’t a priority: the city had plenty of available housing stock and, despite a steady flow of college students, fairly pedestrian demand. But in 2012, 958 new units were built. The next year, that number jumped to 3,227 and hasn’t fallen below 2,100 since, according to Jeff Burd, president of Tall Timber Group, an information service for the construction industry.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh bridge is closing over the weekend to repair damage caused by a construction fire last year.

Traffic on the Liberty Bridge will be closed in both directions from 3 p.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Sunday.

The northbound side of the Liberty Tunnel will also be closed. All traffic will be detoured.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports crews will also repair an expansion joint that crosses the full width of the bridge.

What Will Trump's Infrastructure Plan Mean For PA's Public Transit Systems?

Mar 14, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Each year, the American Society of Civil Engineers releases an "infrastructure report card." This year, the nation's public transportation systems earned a D-, the lowest grade of any form of infrastructure in the country. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A new survey published by AAA finds Americans are not yet ready to fully trust self-driving cars.

The study reports that 54 percent of drivers surveyed felt less safe sharing the road with autonomous vehicles and 78 percent would be afraid to ride in an autonomous car.

However, drivers are interested in some of the innovations used by autonomous cars -- more than half said they'd like to have autonomous technology in their next car. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

  Plans are moving forward on the construction of a bus rapid transit system, or BRT, between the city’s two largest employment centers: Downtown and Oakland.

Developers proposed four route options based on analysis and public input. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

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.”

Tourism, Training And Tax Incentives: DCED's 2017 Budget

Mar 8, 2017
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Department of Community and Economic Development oversees a wide array of state programs, from business and workforce development to tourism to Main Street improvements. DCED is also responsible for Act 47, the state's distressed cities program. 

Jim Lo Scalzo / Pool Image via AP

President Donald Trump called for “a new program of national rebuilding,” in his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

Trump said he would push forward with his plan to invest $1 trillion to replace the country’s crumbling roads, bridges, and airports. Though his comments were short on details, some Pennsylvanians saw them as reason for optimism.

“I was very encouraged,” said David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The bike and pedestrian advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh is trying to gain a better understanding of how the growing number of self-driving cars are interacting with local cyclists and walkers.

“We do see real potential safety benefits from removing humans from the operation of cars,” said Bike Pittsburgh spokeswoman Alex Shewczyk. “However, we don’t appreciate being guinea pigs for this experiment, so we just want to make sure that everything is safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In the country's housing race, Austin, Texas is the hare and Pittsburgh is the tortoise.

According to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, housing costs in the city’s seven-county metropolitan region have remained steady for 20 years, even during tough economic times.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and community activists have recently called attention to what many say is an “affordable housing crisis” in Pittsburgh. As new development comes to neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and East Liberty, many low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters are being priced out of the neighborhoods.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will take a final vote on Tuesday that would amend the city's existing noise ordinance to end late-night construction on private property.

Under current law, construction is restricted in residential zones from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The amendment would limit all private development to hours between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Residents facing eviction from Penn Plaza and their supporters rallied on the steps of the City-County building Tuesday afternoon, calling on the city to step up efforts to increase access to affordable housing.

Joseph Kaczmarek / AP

Heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness. For some people, crossing a bridge induces the same physiological responses as those experienced by an animal frozen in fear, said Dr. Rolf Jacob, a professor of psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Prison Already Shrinking As Closing Gets Underway

Feb 20, 2017
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The process of closing a massive state prison complex in Pittsburgh has made progress in the weeks since it was announced, including the transfer of some inmates to other facilities and a decision by the Corrections Department about where it will relocate the prison's medical and therapeutic programs.

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The developer of the North Side's Nova Place announced Tuesday it will outfit the building with high speed internet available to the community for free.  

The five-year $8.8 million investment will turn portions of the former Allegheny Center Mall into a community technology hub.

Developer Faros Properties, which renovated the building, said it would include “innovation pods” where local groups can meet.

Comcast will provide $1.3 million in cash and services including free one-gigabit-per-second wired and wireless connection.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Jerry Kraynick bends at the waist, hands on hips, and peers over his glasses. He gestures towards a bike. “Throw it up on the stand, and I’ll look at it.”

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi can recall a time when the city’s credit was so poor, they couldn’t purchase Easter candy. Lattanzi said the story is a good example of how far the town has come from its nearly 30 years in Act 47 financial distressed status. 

Friday, he announced the community had received $3.3 million in state tax credits and corporate grants.

“There were times when the cupboards were bare,” Lattanzi said. “And the city of Clairton just kept clawing and clawing.”

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

Passengers are facing delays on Pittsburgh's light rail.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County says Friday's delays are related to a power problem.

On Twitter, the Port Authority said the problem stems from an issue with a switch at the Allegheny Station. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Alcosan will dole out $9 million in grants to support 32 projects intended to keep storm water out of the stressed sanitation system.

The projects in 18 municipalities, including parts of Pittsburgh, are expected to prevent 70 million gallons of rainwater from entering the sewage system. That is less than 1 percent of the 9 billion gallons of water that overflows into the region’s rivers every year.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

On a snowy afternoon in the Hill District, Shafon Willis and her two kids waited for the 83 bus. Winter, 3, couldn’t seem to hold onto one of her pink gloves, which kept falling to the ground.

The Willis family rides the bus about three times a day to get to daycare and Shafon’s job on the South Side. She said she’s not a big fan of some of the recent changes to the bus system in Allegheny County. A new rule that went into effect Jan. 1 requires riders to enter in the front of the bus and exit from the back of the bus.  

Rick Knief / Citi

Redevelopment in Pittburgh's East Liberty neighborhood has magnified issues of accessibility and affordability in housing.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

For decades, contractors demolishing old buildings in Pittsburgh knocked them through the sub-flooring and filled in the holes with whatever was left behind. Debris, support walls, bricks and even appliances -- all topped off with dirt.

Kaffee Instein / flickr

Pittsburgh's light rail commuters will soon be able to surf the web while they wait for a ride.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County announced Friday that Comcast will install Wi-Fi hotspots at seven of the city's T-stations.

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