Development & Transportation

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

Amtrak service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg might not be derailed after all.

The Corbett administration announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached with Amtrak on a new funding plan that will maintain rail passenger service between Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Under the revised agreement with Amtrak, Pennsylvania will provide $3.8 million a year to maintain the service featuring one train a day in each direction between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The through service continues to and from Philadelphia and New York City.

The efficient movement of people and goods is one of the essential components of sustainable regions. So, too, is keeping public transportation both accessible and operative at the most efficient levels, according to William W. Millar, a nationally known expert in the fields of public transportation and transportation policy.

Millar spoke on these and other transportation issues at the University of Pittsburgh Tuesday during his lecture, “How Will We Travel in the Future? The Role of Transportation in Building Sustainable Regions."

Bike Sharing Program in Pittsburgh's Future

Mar 19, 2013
Carlos Reis

Could a bike sharing program allow the Steel City to follow in the bike tracks of Washington, D.C. and London? We'll find out when we talk with Scott Bricker, Executive Director of Bike Pittsburgh.

South Side Chamber of Commerce

It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Pittsburgh, and that means thousands of area residents will be headed downtown for the parade. Thousands will also make their way to the South Side for a bit of celebrating. 

The revelry usually leads to near-gridlock conditions on East Carson Street, but the city hopes a new shuttle bus will help relieve the pressure.

Three buses will run from noon to 4 a.m. along Carson Street every 15 minutes between the Southside works and the city’s Second Avenue lot at the 10th Street Bridge. 

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Biking advocates gathered in Bakery Square on Monday to announce plans for a bike-share system to start in Pittsburgh next year that would feature 500 bicycles stationed at 50 special bike docks across the city.

Slated for a spring or summer 2014 opening, a subscriber could choose a short-term membership of one day or a long-term plan of one year. The user can then check out one of the sturdy bikes from one docking station and deposit it at any of the other 49 destinations.


A Pittsburgh area state lawmaker is demanding funding for mass transit and completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway be included in the Corbett administration's transportation package.

In a first-ever report, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received high marks for 'safety' and 'accountability,' a middling grade in 'mobility,' and a poor assessment in terms of 'preservation and renewal.'

While the beginning of construction season is still a few weeks away, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has opened bidding for projects across the state.

49 projects worth an estimated $282 million will be bid on in Allegheny County this year. Of these, 24 will involve replacing or improving bridges in the county—which are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Kevin Gavin/90.5 WESA

As a result of the upcoming “sequestration,” the automatic cuts to federal spending on Friday, travelers flying from Pittsburgh might have to put up with longer lines, and more delays.

Brad Penrod, President of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, said they’re in talks with the TSA, FAA, and Customs and Border Protection to prepare for the fallout from the cuts.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is facing a $600 million budget decrease and is considering furloughing “the vast majority” of the its 47,000 employees for one day per pay period until September.

 

A local public policy group is asking the commonwealth to ask some hard questions before subsidizing AMTRAK's ride from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg on a train called The Pennsylvanian

The passenger rail train service has lost some federal funds, and is now looking to Pennsylvania for $5.7 million.

While no major overhauls are in the works, the Port Authority of Allegheny County is planning to alter some bus routes.

Beginning March 17, approximately 35 routes will be tweaked. Heather Pharo, spokesperson for the Port Authority, said the changes are for a variety of reasons including overcrowding along some routes.

AAA Finds One in Four Text While Driving

Feb 25, 2013
Jason Weaver / Flickr

A new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 27 percent of motorists sent a text or email while driving in the past month.

It also found that two out of three motorists talked on their phone while driving in the last 30 days, and 89 percent believe others using cell phones are a danger to their safety.

The survey gauged the reactions of about 3,900 U.S. residents ages 16 and older to different safety situations.

When Governor Corbett released his proposed 2013-14 budget of $28.4 billion this month, it included a transportation investment plan.

The governor said that his five year initiative would total more than $5.3 billion--roughly an additional $250 million per year for mass transit in Pennsylvania.

But Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute, a conservative think tank, said the increased amounts don't add up.

AAA Kicks Off “FIX PA ROADS” Campaign

Feb 15, 2013

Pennsylvania AAA Clubs are launching a statewide public service outdoor advertising campaign to call attention to the state’s crumbling roads and unsafe bridges.

AAA East Central today announced a campaign to urge state officials to boost funding for the state’s ailing transportation system.

According to Brian Newbacher of AAA East Central, transportation investment has been under-funded in Pennsylvania for decades, and will take some years to fix.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Still Looking for More Transportation Money

Feb 13, 2013

Governor Tom Corbett’s plan new transportation would generate more than $5 billion over a five year period, however, some say the budget might not be enough to fix Pennsylvania’s transit woes. The plan is projected to yield less money than the governor’s transportation funding advisory commission said would be necessary to keep up with the needs of the state’s ailing infrastructure.

Pennsylvania senate Transportation Committee chairman John Rafferty is leading the effort to draft legislation on the issue. He said he’s looking for something north of that.

Winter Storm Nemo Wreaks Havoc On Travel Plans

Feb 8, 2013

While winter storm Nemo won’t be hitting the Pittsburgh region, its impact will still be felt—especially when it comes to flights from Pittsburgh International.

JoAnn Jenny, spokesperson for the airport, said there wasn’t a final tally by the airport of the amount of cancelled and/or delayed flights, but it wouldn’t be surprising to her if there were going to be “hundreds if not thousands” of flights cancelled because of the storm.

For the first time, PennDOT is conducting an inventory of all the bridges in Pennsylvania. Previously, the agency was only required to keep a log of any state or locally owned bridge more than 20 feet in length.

PennDOT spokesperson, Erin Waters-Trasatt, said only numbers and not conditions would be reported. “This initiative is taking a bridge and local road inventory. It is not assessing or inspecting these roads and bridges,” Waters-Trasatt said.

AIRMALL Renovates to Draw in More Customers

Jan 29, 2013

The center core in the landside terminal of Pittsburgh International Airport will look very different once renovations to update its retail space are finished at the end of this year.

AIRMALL USA, the operator of Pittsburgh International’s shops and restaurants is beginning a $10 million project to increase business in the airport’s stores.  Because of federal security rules only ticketed passengers can access the mall's stores.

Jay Kruisselbrink, vice president of development for AIRMALL, said the changes will reflect the airport’s transformation over 20 years.

Snow Comes Fast to Pittsburgh Region

Jan 25, 2013

<strong>UPDATED 4:10pm:</strong> The first flakes of snow began to fall in the Pittsburgh area a little after 10:00am Friday and the first reports of slippery roads and sidewalks were not far behind.  A winter weather advisory remains in effect for most of southwestern Pennsylvania until 1:00am Saturday. 

The National Weather service is calling for 1-2 inches of accumulation with as much as six inches in the Laurel Highlands where the advisory does not expire until Saturday afternoon. 

Cold Equals Calls for Western Pennsylvania AAA

Jan 23, 2013

It’s the dead of winter, and that can mean issues with your car.

AAA East Central spokesperson Bevi Powell said call volume has doubled because of Pittsburgh’s stretch of below-freezing temperatures.

“Most of those calls coming in are primarily batteries that won’t start, and then tires, because the cold weather affects the air pressure on your tires,” Powell said. “And then lockouts because people start their cars so that its nice and warm, and then they discover that they’ve locked their keys in the car.”

At the doorway to the Pittsburgh City Council Chamber Tuesday morning, a score of people gathered to call for more investment in Pennsylvania's transportation systems, particularly concerning mass transit.

Members of the Allegheny County Labor Council, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, City Council, and Pittsburghers for Public Transit all spoke in favor of pulling a transportation funding commitment from Governor Tom Corbett and the state legislature.

The fumes emitted from diesel fuel are far from pleasant, especially when drivers find themselves following these types of vehicles down the highway. An Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will allow UPMC to replace 20 diesel-fuel shuttle buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

A recent uptick in in highway deaths has prompted AAA to continue to work with Pennsylvania legislators on tighter driver safety laws. That includes bans on texting while driving, which is already on the books in the commonwealth, primary seat belt laws and ways to increase teen driver safety.

Slippery Conditions Abound North of Pittsburgh

Jan 9, 2013

Police have been warning motorists to stay off the roads or use extreme caution in the suburbs and counties north of Pittsburgh, where rain is freezing on roadways despite above-freezing air temperatures.

The National Weather Service says the icy spots are developing because the ground remains cold enough from a recent cold spell.

State police in Butler, 30 miles north of the city, issued a plea for people to stay off the roads temporarily, and police in Punxsutawney, 60 miles northeast of the city, report they're dealing with multiple crashes.

Due to an increase in retirements recently, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) is hiring drivers this month while recruiting even more to fill operator vacancies in the future.  A new contract set in place this past summer along with funding cuts has made it more difficult for the transit agency to attract new drivers.

Water Main Break Snarls Downtown Traffic

Jan 3, 2013

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) says its expects repairs to be completed by 11 pm Thursday to a water main that burst this morning in downtown Pittsburgh causing traffic problems and icy conditions but streets will remain closed through Friday's morning rush hour. 

PWSA Director of Operations Tom Palmosina said the contractor has completely exposed the split pipe and workers are in the process of installing the new 12-inch ductile iron pipe.  

“We are fortunate that no one is without water."

The long-awaited stretch of Route 219 in Somerset County between Meyersdale and Somerset is projected to begin in late spring or early summer.  PennDOT district 9, which includes Somerset County, is in the final stages of securing the necessary permits from the Department of Environmental Protection.  Proposals began circulating for this 11-mile stretch of Route 219 nearly 40 years ago. 

Gas prices have been trending downward in the U.S. for the last several weeks, and that trend is expected to continue into 2013. That’s according to AAA East Central, which covers Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

“It is expected to continue unless something happens that affects the supply or the demand then we do expect them to trend downward, this is usually the time of year when gas prices do fall,” said AAA Spokeswoman Bevi Powell.

Barges and other river traffic moving through Pittsburgh might soon be using a broadband wireless network to announce their arrival and keep everyone a little bit safer.

The Port of Pittsburgh Commission (PPC) is developing a first-of-its-kind network that it feels could have uses in busy inland waterways across the country. 

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