Development & Transportation

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

Identified Technologies

The logo may look like a drone, and the drone might get all the attention on the job site, but the leadership of Identified Technologies Corporation in Larimer says drones are not the focus of their growing company.

“We do use them as a tool as part of this work flow, but the drone has become the least interesting and least special part of the work flow,” said Dick Zhang, the company's CEO and founder.

They use commercially available drones and cameras to create two and three-dimensional models of construction sites to help monitor progress.

Snow Makes For Frowns On Northeast Roads

Dec 12, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Snow and freezing rain made for messy commutes and closed hundreds of schools Monday as a snowstorm pushed into the Northeast.

The storm left nearly a foot of snow on the ground in some spots in the Great Lakes and upper Midwest before dumping up to about a half-foot across New York and northern New England. Boston, New York City and Philadelphia were spared.

Speeds were reduced on snow-packed roads and there were many school delays and closures from Michigan to Maine.

Despite 'Urban Renaissance' Suburbs Continue To Dominate In U.S.

Dec 10, 2016
Stockton Williams / ULI

 

The traditional narrative goes like this: After World War II, upper and middle class white families fled the inner cities for the suburbs. They were chasing the "American Dream" of white picket fences, two car garages and shopping centers you could drive to. The children of those Baby Boomers grew up, fought back and now, are moving back to the cities.

According to a new report from the Urban Land Institute's Terwilliger Center for Housing, the first part of that story is more true than the second part — so far.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority is paying for what will be the third round of environmental testing of the former Civic Arena site.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Carnegie Mellon University will receive $14 million in federal funding to develop innovations in smart transportation, research and education, the school announced Tuesday.

Matt Slocum / AP

 

A retired Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission worker says executive-level managers are "out of touch" and that "jobs/promotions are filled by the politicians" — including positions created for unqualified workers.

Oh, yeah, Michael Stuban — the middle manager who filled out the scathing exit interview before he retired on Thanksgiving — hit "reply all," sending the emailed document to all of his more than 2,000 former co-workers.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Eric Luster grew up in a three-bedroom 1920s-era home on a quiet dead end street in Homewood. It was a self-described good childhood, but he thought he would have a better future in Atlanta, Ga., so he moved out of town to raise his five children.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority proposed mixing green and gray infrastructure to reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into the Ohio River. 

The draft “Green First Plan” calls for millions of dollars in water retention systems that are both above and below ground. The systems would range from cement cisterns that hold water during rainy days to be processed later, to green spaces that can absorb storm water runoff into the ground.  

Why The Debate Over Drones All Goes Back To Avian Suicide

Nov 29, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

The Federal Aviation Administration is due to release rules for drone operation over populated areas in a couple weeks. Interest is high in many sectors, including local government.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Police in the Pittsburgh suburbs say they're investigating a woman's claims that an Uber driver made unwanted sexual advances.

Ross Township police said the woman reported the incident about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

The woman says the driver started making advances while driving her to a restaurant. The driver allegedly stopped the vehicle, but the woman says she pushed him away and he continued the ride to the restaurant where she got out and called 911.

Police said the woman wasn't physically harmed.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In the lobby of the Federal Building on Grant Street Downtown, Nic Woods emptied his pockets into a white plastic basket. It took him a while, as he was covered with clips and locks and wearing a large messenger bag.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

With a possibility of the region’s first snowfall this weekend, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials said they’re prepared for winter weather.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

*UPDATED: Nov. 28 at 12:25 p.m.

This summer, Pittsburghers wanting to fly to Europe can do so for as little as $99.

Bargain airlines Condor and WOW will offer low-cost, non-stop flights to Frankfurt, Germany and Reykjavik, Iceland, respectively. Condor will offer service twice per week throughout the summer, while WOW’s service will run four times per week, year-round.

WOW will offer some one-way tickets to Iceland for as low as $99, and travelers can continue to other European cities like Paris, Dublin, Berlin and London for $150. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 Last week, about 20 people waited anxiously for the walk signal at the busy intersection outside Target in East Liberty. When the light changed, they danced into the crosswalk. As James Brown sang “Get on the Good Foot,” they spun, they shimmied, they high-fived.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has assessed a contractor more than $3 million in damages because a major Pittsburgh bridge was wholly or partially shut down for 24 days after a construction fire.

PennDOT says a spark from a blowtorch ignited plastic piping and a construction tarp on the Liberty Bridge on Sept. 2.

Contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. says it hopes to negotiate a lower amount of "liquidated damages" that accounts for the "hard work" the company did to limit the bridge closure and put the project back on schedule.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads)

 After more than two years of contentious legal battles, Uber and Lyft may operate legally in Pennsylvania. On Monday, the Senate voted 47-1 to allow ride-hailing services to operate in the state — and to begin regulating them as their own transportation entity. Governor Tom Wolf plans to sign the legislation. 

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

 

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is trying to shame trucking firms and other commercial haulers into paying more than $1.5 million in unpaid tolls.  

One firm, Green Coast Logistics of South Plainfield, New Jersey, owes the bulk of that money, more than $678,000 stemming from more than 7,000 violations.

The violations occur when vehicles drive through EZPass lanes and don't have an electronic toll-paying device attached -- or don't have enough money in their EZPass account to cover the tolls.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 


To the left of her fridge, Zinna Scott can peer out her kitchen window on Rosewood Avenue in Homewood and see the two open, grassy lots where her neighbors once lived. It’s where she wants to build her dream house.

Matt Slocum / AP

 

A judge has ordered the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to pay a former worker more than $3 million after finding he was wrongly fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle on agency practices.

Ralph Bailets sued the turnpike commission and two of its officials over his 2008 termination. He says he was dismissed for questioning a major computer contract, hiring practices and how large trucking firms qualify for E-ZPass discounts.

Prosecutors in 2013 used his testimony to file corruption charges against several agency officials.

PennDOT

 

When a construction fire damaged Pittsburgh's Liberty Bridge last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation closed it for 24 days to do repairs.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The Liberty Bridge reopened on Monday to vehicles weighing less than nine tons.

“The bridge is good for cars, ambulances and pick-up trucks,” said PennDOT District Executive Dan Cessna. “It excludes buses, empty tri-axle trucks and heavier trucks than that.”

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

An empty, three-acre parking lot lies at the corner of Station Street and Euclid Avenue.

You can’t actually park there. Weeds grow in the cracked cement between lines of faded paint.

Waze Sets Out To Eliminate 'Tunnel Blindness' On Mobile Maps

Sep 22, 2016
Matt P. / Flickr

 

 

The popular navigation app Waze is putting a new twist on the phrase "tunnel vision." It's trying to ensure drivers relying on digital maps don't lose their way when their GPS signal disappears in tunnels.

Feds Preview Rules Of The Road For Self-Driving Cars

Sep 20, 2016
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Obama administration officials are previewing long-awaited guidance that attempts to bring self-driving cars to the nation's roadways safely — without creating so many roadblocks that the technology can't make it to market quickly.

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

Hobo doesn’t look like your typical bodyguard. With soft brown eyes and a dark chocolate coat, the miniature donkey is quiet, calm and blends in with the herd he protects. That is, until something threatening approaches.

“He’s never actually had to chase off a coyote or anything,” said Doug Placais. “But if a dog or anything comes up to the fence, he’s always ready to protect them. He stands alert.”  

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The sight was striking, the aesthetic futuristic. 

On the roofs of 14 self-driving Ford Fusions idling outside Uber's Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, 14 small cylindrical sensory devices spun in unison, each with 64 channels of laser beams collecting 1.4 million distance measurements per second.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s auditor general is painting a no-win picture with his most recent audit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

While Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the turnpike is doing well when it comes to controlling spending and managing its money, he said there are structural problems in place that could eventually lead to the collapse not only of the turnpike, but also of much of the state’s transportation system.

WITF

The ticking departures board at Philadelphia's main train station could make its own exit soon. But just how long the letters will continue to flip and signal passing trains at 30th Street Station remains in question.

Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert says the plan to swap the Solari board with a digitized model is in its early design phase with no replacement timeline. A flipboard has directed station travelers for at least 35 years.

Tolbert says the model has grown obsolete, making it difficult to find replacement parts.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A national transportation research group has estimated that completion of the 14-mile stretch of the Mon-Fayette expressway and the extension of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Busway would create nearly 21,000 jobs in the Mon Valley region and beyond.

Self-Driving Uber Cars To Carry Passengers Soon In Pittsburgh

Aug 18, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Uber's move to carry people with autonomous vehicles is not surprising, given the company's history of pushing into gray areas where there is little or no regulation, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina professor who studies self-driving technology.

Pages