Development & Transportation

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

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Across the street from the Trolley Stop Inn on Library Road in Bethel Park, there’s a sign. It’s white and rectangular, the lettering is fading a bit, and on the leftmost side is a large orange dot. It’s nearly the size of a basketball and the label boldly proclaims: Orange Belt.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The city has towed nearly 50 cars in the past two weekends since it started full-fledged enforcement of parking restrictions on Carson Street's new public safety lane.

The public safety lane restricts parking along a six-block stretch of Carson Street, between 12th and 17th streets, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Additionally, metered parking on the South Side has been extended until midnight.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

How Pittsburghers get from one place to the next can be a controversial topic. As the city continues to develop, mayoral candidates are considering strategies big and small to make local transit infrastructure work for everyone, including cyclists.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh public safety officials are trying to determine why a rain-activated gate failed to automatically stop traffic from entering a low-lying roadway where four people died in an August 2011 flash flood.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation installed the $450,000 system in 2012, but it's now operated and maintained by the city. The system uses rain sensors that can trigger three swinging-arm gates and several lighted caution signals meant to keep motorists off Washington Boulevard.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Below a tangle of highways along the southern edge of Pittsburgh’s downtown is a truncated section of concrete. The Mon Wharf Landing may look as if it goes nowhere, some sort of multi-modal experiment that was never completed.

Until now. 

Matt Rourke / AP

The demand for new apartments in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh has grown swiftly over the last few years. Developers have met that demand with a tremendous amount of construction, said Barbara Byrne Denham, senior economist at Reis, a real estate data and analytics company based in New York. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Like being the first person to leave tracks after a snowfall, a stretch of brand new pavement can incite glee, regardless of age.

Margaret Sun

If you find yourself in a transportation jam, screens scattered through Oakland could help you find a way out soon. The Oakland Business Improvement District is teaming up with a few other non-profits to provide large screens showing real-time transportation options.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Emerald View Park encircles Mt. Washington, Duquesne Heights and Allentown in a tight hug, an embrace from which Derek Stuart prepared to depart.

Johnstown Area Third Fastest Shrinking City In The US

Apr 12, 2017
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Johnstown has taken the bronze medal in a race no one wants to win  — the country's fastest shrinking cities. The Johnstown metro region, which includes all of Cambria County, lost 5.5 percent of its population since 2011.

According to the research group 24/7 Wall Street, that's the third fastest rate of decline after Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Farmington, New Mexico. 

Johnstown City Manager Arch Liston was surprised to hear that the city was so far down the list — but the numbers didn't shock him. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Ride-sharing and technology company Uber will pay $3.5 million into the state’s general fund to settle a long-running dispute with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Commissioners approved the settlement in a four to one vote Thursday. The civil penalty is one-third of the original $11.4 million fine levied against Uber. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has been a big booster of ride-share giant Uber — but now he's calling on the San Francisco-based firm to "fight for more than profit" if it wants to remain a good corporate citizen.

Peduto wants Uber to agree to a memorandum of understanding to do business the "Pittsburgh way" which, he says, includes fair treatment of workers.

Street Sensors And Cameras In Pennsylvania: Urban Asset Or Privacy Concern?

Apr 4, 2017
Eleanor Klibanoff / Keystone Crossroads

Ever wonder about something you see or hear about where you live that you wish our reporters would explore? Here's your chance! You ask the questions, you vote on the questions you're most curious about, and we answer. Submit a question for us to investigate.

This round, Elliot Adler from Philadelphia asked about the cameras and sensors he's seen popping up more and more on roadways. He asked, "what are these sensors doing, how are they doing it, and what — if any — information are they storing?"

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Motorists are facing lane restrictions as construction work continues on Pittsburgh's Liberty Bridge.

The Boulevard of the Allies closes for 80 days between Grant Street and the bridge beginning at 6 a.m. Monday.

Weekday lane restrictions also have resumed. Two inbound lanes and one outbound will be open from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. and motorists will have one inbound and two outbound lanes from 2 to 7 p.m.

One lane is open in each direction from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The work is part of the Transportation Department's $80 million bridge rehabilitation project.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

City leaders considered ideas to restructure the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority in a half-day discussion at the City-County Building on Friday.

Mayor Bill Peduto and his appointed Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel interviewed candidates competing to help evaluate the debt-ridden authority, which has been under more intense scrutiny lately for lead and other contaminants in some city water lines.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The remaining tenants of East Liberty’s Penn Plaza apartment complex are moving out Friday, one day after Whole Foods announced it will not build a store on the site.

Rich Moffitt / AP

A former Democratic state senator is being nominated to fill an opening on the five-member Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday announced his choice of John Wozniak for a seat recently vacated when Sean Logan was appointed to the Pennsylvanian Gaming Control Board.

Wozniak did not run last year for another term in a Johnstown-area Senate seat.

He'd been in the Legislature since 1980 and had served as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee.

David Goldman / AP Photo

Like many municipalities in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh’s water system faces significant structural challenges, from aging infrastructure to ongoing concerns about lead in the city’s drinking water.

To address them, Mayor Bill Peduto kicked off the process of evaluating Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), with the goal of restructuring.

Erika Beras

Alethea Sims is a longtime resident of East Liberty, a Pittsburgh neighborhood. A few years ago, Google opened an office not far from there. Luxury apartment buildings started cropping up. She hung signs that read "Black Homes Matter."

As rents here have risen, Sims has watched some of her mostly black neighbors move to cheaper areas.

“When you're talking, like, $1,000, $2,000 and up for a one bedroom, who's that affordable for? Definitely not the people who lived there. And not too many people that I know of,” she said.

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. 

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