Development & Transportation

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

Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

For a city molded by its dramatic topography, Pittsburgh has admittedly been a bit neglectful of many of those simple structures that get people up and down the hills: steps.

But over the next year-and-a-half, city leaders are hoping to hear some innovative ideas from national experts on how they can repair and improve the city’s extensive system of staircases.

Though a design firm hasn't been chosen yet, $1.16 million worth of in-kind services furnished by the Citi Foundation means Pittsburgh won't have to pay anything.

90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants electric avenues, responsive stoplights, a drop in city emissions totals and more self-driving cars, and he doesn't want to wait for a $50 million grant to get them.

The Steel City is one of seven finalists for a multi-million “Smart City” prize offered through the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve urban transit.

At an event Tuesday, Peduto said city officials need to treat the ensuing notoriety as an opportunity to consider innovative but realistic changes to city infrastructure regardless of the contest's outcome.

Self-Driving Cars Are Coming, But They’re Not Ready For Pittsburgh Yet

Mar 4, 2016
Anita DuFalla / PublicSource

Ninety percent of car crashes are preventable.

As it stands, about 30,000 people die in car crashes every year in the United States, said Mark Kopko of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation [PennDOT]. “If you could reduce that by 90 percent, that’s huge.”

Autonomous cars have the capacity to do that.

In Allegheny County, that could mean a vast reduction in the roughly 12,000 crashes in 2014 — especially of those attributed to driver error, like drunk or distracted driving and speeding.

Pittsburgh City Planning Deptartment

The Port Authority is set to begin replacing the rails of the Red Line “T” route on March 27, but a project to simultaneously improve the safety of the T stops there hasn’t gotten off the ground.

The Beechview T stops are situated on concrete islands in the middle of Broadway Avenue’s four lanes. They don’t have pedestrian crossings and they’re not well marked. Beechview’s councilwoman, Natalia Rudiak, said the situation is unsafe and discourages people from riding the T.

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Port Authority of Allegheny County officials heard from the public Wednesday on a proposed fare change that would take place next year.

Currently Port Authority buses and light rail lines run through two zones. Riding through one zone costs $2.50, with an additional $1.75 to ride through a second. Officials are proposing consolidating service into one zone, costing a flat $2.50 fee.

Marty Gabel / Flickr

 

Pittsburgh International Airport officials say Southwest Airlines is adding daily nonstop service to Los Angeles starting Aug. 7.

The flights will leave Pittsburgh at 7:10 p.m. Eastern time and arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 9:10 p.m. Pacific time. Flights from Los Angeles will leave at 4:55 p.m. Pacific time and arrive in Pittsburgh at 12:25 a.m. Eastern time.

The flights will give Southwest 16 nonstop destinations from Pittsburgh, the most of any carrier.

John Marino / flickr

OneJet has named Pittsburgh a "focus city" and plans to add daily flights to Hartford, Connecticut and four other cities.

The carrier uses seven-passenger Hawker 400 jets to cater to business travelers. It launched service from Pittsburgh International Airport in May, with nonstop flights to Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

At a news conference Thursday, the company pledged to add nonstop flights to four still-to-be decided destinations later this year, and to hire about 40 pilots, mechanics and other workers in Pittsburgh.

Luke H. Gordon / Flickr

Some 12,000 daily riders of the Port Authority’s light rail Red Line are going to have to find an alternative mode of transportation for six months starting March 27. 

The transit agency will replace a nearly mile-long stretch of deteriorating tracks and street pavement in Beechview.

This section on Broadway Avenue, “has reached the end of its useful life,” according to Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie. And it has required “22 costly repairs” since 2008 to keep it open.

The Red Line provides service from the South Hills to Downtown and the North Shore. 

Michael Watkins / AP

 

Part of a section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was closed over the weekend due to a massive backup of hundreds of vehicles will be closing again for several hours to allow recovery of one of the tractor-trailers involved.

Turnpike officials say an 86-mile stretch of the westbound lanes of the turnpike between the Breezewood and New Stanton interchanges will be closed for about three hours beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

takomabibelot / flickr

Workers have imploded the old Hulton Bridge over the Allegheny River.

The implosion of the 107-year-old span that connects the Pittsburgh suburbs of Oakmont and Harmar occurred about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday.

PennDOT Crews Brace For Icy Conditions Next

Jan 25, 2016
Stark / Flickr

After the weekend storm blanked parts of the state with as much as three feet of snow, commonwealth authorities must balance competing priorities: keeping state-owned roads clear while extending help to municipalities still digging out.

“This storm ... it’s historic,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards on Monday. “A lot of these cities and municipal public works departments are really trying to get on top of it... there are some very small roads, and it’s very hard with cars parked on the side.”

Mrs Airwolfhound / Flickr

The United States Air Force is trying to decide where to send a new squadron of C-17 aircrafts, and the 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport is one of the bases being considered for the move.

The C-17s are large cargo jets, which would replace the smaller, propeller-driven C-130s currently at the base.  

Pennsylvanians who fly can still use their state-issued driver’s license to board a commercial flight—for the next two years.

The Department of Homeland Security this month revised its schedule for enforcing the REAL I-D Act of 2005, a security measure Congress passed on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

“At this point, there’s no impact on Pennsylvania citizens. They can continue to use a Pennsylvania driver’s license to board commercial aircraft,” said PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick.

Pittsburgh Commuter Survey

  City officials released initial results from a survey of Pittsburgh-area commuters on Thursday, sharing insight into the commuting patterns of some city travelers. 

Daniel Lobo / flickr

Pittsburgh public transit users could pay less to ride the bus, or T, starting next year.

Allegheny County Port Authority officials are considering a flat $2.50 fare for one-way rides on the city's light rail and bus lines. It would be the system's first fare decrease in 35 years.

Customers currently maneuver two fare zones; a trip through one costs $2.50 and riding through two costs $3.75.

swong95765 / flickr

The Pittsburgh International Airport is adding nonstop flights to Hilton Head International Airport in Savannah, Ga. and expanding nonstop service to Paris. The airport also announced Frontier Airlines will return in June, with nonstop flights to five cities.

Frontier will fly to Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas and Orlando Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The airline will fly to Chicago on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.   

The destinations are already serviced nonstop by other carriers, but Spokesman Bob Kerlik said the added airline gives travelers more options.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Works crews will continue to work 12-hour shifts for the duration of the current snowfall event, according to city spokesperson Katie O’Malley.

Daniel Oines / Flickr

 

The 90-year old structurally deficient Liberty Bridge will undergo its first major renovation in 30 years starting in April.

“It’s due,” said state Department of Transportation District Executive Dan Cessna.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

New Year's Eve traffic in and out of Pittsburgh for the First Night celebration might not so bad.

Parkway East will reopen at 2 p.m. Thursday, earlier than expected following Monday's implosion of the Greenfield Bridge.

Rhys A. / Flickr

Turnpike motorists, get ready to dig a little deeper.  Effective Jan. 3, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is hiking tolls for an eighth straight year.

Cash and E-ZPass customers will pay an additional 6 percent in 2016. E-ZPass remains the least expensive option at its discounted rate. 

“E-ZPass customers can save as much as 35 percent,” spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

Bert Kaufmann / Flickr

Drivers hitting the road this holiday season will be far from alone. 

The American Automobile Association estimates there will be a record-breaking 100.5 million Americans traveling this season.

Of those travelers, 91.3 million will be driving. That's  a 1.4 percent increase from last year. According to AAA, holiday travel has been trending upward for seven consecutive years.

haljackey / Flickr

PennDOT and the state Departments of Aging and Insurance are reminding older drivers to evaluate their driving abilities as part of "Older Driver Safety Awareness Week." 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers age 85 and older are nearly twice as likely to crash compared to drivers between the ages of 16 and 19.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Autumn brings about changing leaves, crisp-cool weather and a trend much more vexing: deer-related car crashes.

November is peak mating season for deer, Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist Jeannine Fleegle said.

“Bucks are on the move a lot more, because they’re looking for a date,” she said. “And there’s not much else they see. They’re not paying attention to roads – not that deer are very good at crossing roads anyway – but with these increased movements, the probability of them getting hit of course goes up.”    

Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr

If you'll be driving this Thanksgiving, you might see an increase in traffic as you make your way to holiday gatherings.

AAA predicts that about 42 million people will travel 50 miles or more by car for this holiday weekend—the highest number of travelers since 2007.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  Nearly 40 people told the Port Authority Board of Trustees Friday that cuts in service over the years has cut them off from getting where they want to be.

In the past few years the port authority has had to decrease service which it blames on inadequate state funding. Residents in Penn Hills want an extension of the 79 route, Garfield residents want weekend service through the neighborhood and students and staff at the Community College of Allegheny County want a route taking them closer to the north campus.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

The Monongahela Incline is scheduled to reopen Wednesday ahead of its long-stated Light Up Night goal.

The 635-foot incline closed for renovations Sept. 8.

PennDOT

Leave extra travel time if you plan to take Parkway East this weekend.

The inbound and outbound sides are scheduled to close in spots starting 11 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Monday.

The outbound detour begins at the Oakland exit, but drivers should be able to access the outbound parkway from the Squirrel Hill/Homestead and Edgewood/Swissvale entrances.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The North Side will become the home of the city's newest bike lanes. 

The City of Pittsburgh is installing bike lanes on East Street in the North Side, between Suffolk Street and Lareda Street.

In September, the city installed bike lanes along Bigelow Boulevard and Bayard Street in Oakland.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Drivers can now reach for their smartphones to pay for city parking rather than coins or credit cards.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority launched a mobile payment option Thursday. Users download the Go Mobile PGH app on their smartphone and register their license plate and credit card numbers. Drivers enter the zone number found on a sign located at the nearest kiosk and how long they want to park there. Then the countdown on their phone begins.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

  From July through September, more than 40,000 trips were made on Healthy Ride bicycles through Pittsburgh’s bike sharing program, an average of about 440 trips per day.

Healthy Ride Executive Director David White said that’s a slight uptick from the June numbers, when 300-400 trips were taken each day. The program launched on May 31 and stations were still being installed through mid-July.

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