Development & Transportation

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

Signal Violation to Blame in T Derailment

Nov 12, 2012
File photo / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County said that “a violation of a light rail signal” was what lead to Friday night’s derailment between the Gateway and Wood Street "T" Stations. PAT said the signal violation resulted in the light rail vehicle trying to pass through a switch before it had fully moved, and locked, into the correct position. The train derailed when it hit the switch. An investigation continues.

Three passengers complained of minor injuries after the incident.

Slowly but surely, the days of cash and cardboard card passes for Pittsburgh mass transit are becoming a thing of the past. Starting November 16, riders who buy December monthly passes at the Downtown service center will get “ConnectCards,” plastic cards that a rider will use in place of cardboard passes.

Port Authority spokesperson Jim Ritchie said the new payment system will be more convenient for than cash.

Pittsburgh’s 25-year transportation plan, MovePGH, has been taking public comment over the last year to craft an ultimate vision. Through that process the group has come up with a list of priorities and 5 goals, which it enveiled today.  Among the priorities -- providing balanced choices in transportation.

Operations at Pittsburgh International Airport are a mixed bag today as Sandy continues to affect areas from the East Coast to the Midwest. Numerous flights were canceled this morning, mostly due to a lack of planes.

“When there’s upheaval in the airline system, when a whole day’s worth of flights get canceled out of heavily-traveled airports such as Philadelphia, the New York airports, Washington DC, it does leave an imbalance in the system and aircraft aren’t where they should be when they need to be,” said Airport Spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny.

Highlands are Ready for the Megastorm

Oct 29, 2012

Somerset County says it is ready to go when it comes to the “Frankenstorm” brewing over Pennsylvania.  The county and the rest of the Laurel Highlands stand at a high enough elevation that the area could see some wet snowfalls.

“We are a ‘snow county,’ we’re used to the snow,” said Somerset County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Lohr. 

Locals Prepare for "Frankenstorm"

Oct 26, 2012

The pre-Halloween hybrid weather monster that federal forecasters call "Frankenstorm" is looking more ominous by the hour for the East Coast, and utilities and local governments are getting ready.

“We actually begin preparing for winter well before the fall months,” said PennDOT District 11 spokesperson Jim Struzzi.  “Right now we are just double checking everything to make sure all the equipment is as it should be.”

Allegheny River Locks Services Changing

Oct 23, 2012

As part of a national effort to redirect funding from operations to maintenance,  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh will change the hours and days of operation of several locks on the Allegheny River. Three locks will be restored to 24/7 service and Locks 6 and 7 will be reduced to commercial appointments only.

Given the deteriorating condition of the locks, services are being adjusted based on usage to help reduce costs. Jeff Hawk, Public Affairs Officer for the Corps’ Pittsburgh branch, said there is a direct relationship between funding and lock usage.

UPDATE: This story was originally published Oct 11th.  The second weekend of work began Friday night.  The detours are once again in place and the state is warning that delays could grow throughout the day.

ORIGINAL POST:The inbound lanes of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel are closing the next two consecutive weekends in order to complete work that raises the ceiling.  PennDOT spokesman, Jim Struzzi, said to expect significant delays during the closures starting at 9 p.m. on Friday through 5 a.m. Sunday on October 12-15th and 19-22nd.

IBM Wraps Up Pittsburgh Transit Consultation

Oct 12, 2012

IBM data experts made their final recommendations Friday after three weeks of studying Pittsburgh's transit systems and transit infrastructure. The city was one of 33 recipients of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, which allowed Pittsburgh City Planners to work with analysts to further the city's transportation initiatives.

The final mile of the Great Allegheny Passage is expected to be completed in April 2013.  When done, the 141-mile bicycle trail will connect Pittsburgh to Maryland. At that point, the trail, which connects to Washington D.C via the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, has a small gap between Pittsburgh and Duquesne. Officials say the trail is already a big draw, and this will only boost that.

A new report finds that young people are increasingly moving to Pittsburgh from cities such as Philadelphia, New York City and Washington D.C. 

The report, from PittsburghTODAY, examines the behaviors and attitudes of 400 + young residents living in the region.

Over the past five years, Pittsburgh has seen a seven percent influx of 20-34 year olds. That’s in contrast to years past when young people left Southwest Pennsylvania in droves.

A cake shaped like Pittsburgh International Airport greeted visitors Monday as they arrived for a celebration marking the facility’s 20th year. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the economic impact of owning and developing the land upon which the airport sits has resulted in great successes for the county over the last two decades.

RAD Board Includes Port Authority in Proposed Budget

Sep 27, 2012

The Allegheny County Regional Asset District (RAD) is including $3 million in funding for the Port Authority in its proposed budget as a provisional grant. The preliminary $88.5 million budget includes 95 separate grants to 85 organizations, plus the provisional grant that is to be considered by the full board.

“If all of the measures are adopted the 2013 budget will be a 2.5 percent increase from the 2012 budget and the largest allocation in RAD history,” said board member Stanley Parker.

Fancourt Bridge to Close

Sep 26, 2012

As of Thursday night the Francourt Bridge will be closed for long-term repairs, according to PennDOT District 11. The bridge carries the ramps from Fort Duquesne Blvd. to I-376.

Crews will be removing and replacing the superstructure, bridge deck, beams, bearing, and approach slabs during reconstruction.

Work will also be done on the walls adjacent to the bridge along the 10th Street Bypass.

Ramps from eastbound I-376 and southbound I-279 to the 10th Street Bypass will also close. According to PennDOT, the closures are necessary for work on the Fancourt Bridge.

The next time you find yourself dining or shopping at Station Square on Pittsburgh's South Side and your electric car needs a charge, you don't have to worry about getting home.

Forest City Enterprises, the company which owns Station Square, has partnered with Car Charging Group (CCG) to install an electric car charging station that is now operational.  This is the latest car charging center in the Pittsburgh area. There are plug-in stations at some Giant Eagle supermarkets, UPMC hospitals as well as Whole Foods in Wexford.

Smart Signals Cut Pollution and Travel Time

Sep 24, 2012

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they have been able to reduce travel time through an area of Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood by 26-percent and reduce car emissions by 20-percent through the installation of a smart signal system.  The project is part of the Traffic 21 Initiative looking at the place where traffic management and information management collide.

The project spent a little more than $150,000 to add video cameras and other technology to nine intersections around the Target store near Penn Circle in East Liberty.

Grant Street Ramps To I-376 Restricted For 2 Weeks

Sep 24, 2012

Motorists wanting to access eastbound I-376, the Parkway East, using Grant St. in downtown Pittsburgh will have to find an alternative for two weeks. There will also be some restrictions for the ramp from Grant St. to westbound I-376.

“Well the main ramp, the ramp that we are doing the work on to eastbound I-376, will be closed around the clock, and that will occur starting today through October 7," said PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi.  "The other ramp to westbound I-376 is only going to be closed at night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night, including weekends."

Travelers passing through Pittsburgh International Airport might find their check-ins are a bit quicker due to new procedures for the passenger screening lanes. Beginning Tuesday, September 25, the lanes located outside the ticketing level (the alternate checkpoint)  will change the morning hours to 4:00-8:00 a.m. and afternoon hours to 2:00-6:00 p.m.

PA Auditor General Wants Legislature To Focus On Transportation Issues

Sep 21, 2012

Jack Wagner has been traveling throughout the commonwealth since last fall, pointing out bridges that are sometimes actually crumbling.

Now Pennsylvania's Auditor General is sending a DVD of the television coverage of his stops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Scranton to labor and industry groups to support his call for lawmakers to pass legislation funding road and bridge repairs.

Wagner says he hopes they help him lobby state lawmakers.  

They are in millions of cars across the country but according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) three out of four child safety seats are not properly installed.  So PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police are again partnering to offer safety seat checkups as part of National Child Passenger Safety Week.

Pittsburgh Wins Pro-Walk, Pro-Bike Conference

Sep 14, 2012 Bike Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

A nationwide conference geared toward highlighting and brainstorming ideas for pedestrian and bicycling enhancements is coming to Pittsburgh in two years.  

Pittsburgh will host the 2014 Pro Walk/ Pro Bike Conference September 8-12, and use the opportunity to showcase bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure initiatives in the city. The biennial event has been held since 1980 and is coordinated by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking.

The most recent phase of the $36 million Crosstown Boulevard/Veterans Bridge Preservation Projects is causing morning rush hour traffic snarls for North Hills and Bigelow Boulevard commuters, and officials are looking at ways to ease the congestion.

PA Turnpike Considers Going All-Electronic

Sep 4, 2012

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is taking steps to make all of its interchanges collect tolls electronically. But how that will affect its human work force is yet be seen.

PAT CEO Bland Is Candidate For Jacksonville Job

Aug 31, 2012

The head of the financially-challenged Port Authority of Allegheny County is up for a similar post in Jacksonville. The Florida Times-Union reported today that PAT Chief Executive Office Steve Bland is one of three finalists to be executive director of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

"My family and I love living in the Pittsburgh area, my wife s original hometown, and we have no immediate plans to leave," Bland said in a statement released by the Port Authority.


Public transportation riders in Allegheny County have been spared, at least for the time being.  Deep service cuts were slated to take effect in early September, but have now been delayed for at least one year. That’s thanks to an infusion of state dollars and savings from union concessions.

Governor's Transportation Report: No Progress

Aug 21, 2012 Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

Last year, the Corbett administration's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) reported the state's transportation systems are underfunded and out of date.

But one year later, nothing has been done to address transportation infrastructure.

Union Approves PAT Contract

Aug 20, 2012

Workers of the Pittsburgh-area transit agency have ratified a new four-year contract that will head off job and service reductions.

The 2,300 workers cast their votes on Sunday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The pact includes a wage freeze, more pension contributions by workers, and health care concessions.

Gasoline and diesel fuel vehicles still make up the majority of those on the state’s roadways, but as more transportation entities look to alternative fuel vehicles, gas tax revenue might take a hit. A hearing of the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee took on that issue in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday. Chair, Representative Richard Geist (R-Altoona), asked an official from the Department of Revenue how many electric cars are on the state’s roadways. That wasn’t clear, so Geist took a different track.

Gas Prices Up, Up, Up

Aug 13, 2012

Drivers have probably been noticing an upward spike in gasoline prices, and consumers might not see relief until October.  According to Gregg Laskowski, senior petroleum analyst for, the average price in Pittsburgh today is $3.67 a gallon which is up 4.5 cents in the past week and 32 cents “believe it or not” just in the past month. The national average is also $3.67 a gallon.

Laskowski said crude oil trading is around $93 a barrel, and unless that price decreases, gasoline prices will steadily rise in the coming weeks.

PAT and Union Reach Contract Deal

Aug 9, 2012

The Port Authority (PAT) of Allegheny County and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have reached a tentative contract agreement that could be the first step in staving off massive service cuts. The agreement was announced Thursday by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. In a written statement from the Executive’s office, Fitzgerald said the agreement will be considered by the Local 85 membership on August 19th and the Port Authority Board will take up the issue in the following days. No details of the plan are to be officially released until those votes are taken.