Development & Transportation

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

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

In 1985, Carnegie Mellon University announced that its first driverless vehicle, Terregator, could make its way across a football field in about an hour.

Now, with CMU's fourteenth generation of automated vehicles, a silver Cadillac SUV, able to manage up to 70 miles per hour, state government officials are finally taking regulatory steps to prepare for what they describe as the inevitable rise of driverless vehicles over the coming decades.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

Bike Pittsburgh is releasing the sixth edition of its City Bike Map this week and organization leaders said the city has come a long way since the first edition.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited Pittsburgh Monday to get a first-hand report on the city’s bid for a $50 million federal transportation grant.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Members of the Port Authority of Allegheny County board unanimously approved a measure to adopt a flat fare system by doing away with the three-zone system Friday. 

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Crews have begun replacing the deck of Pittsburgh's Liberty Bridge, one of the busiest arteries crossing the Monongahela River and leading to the city's southern suburbs.

PennDOT says crews will replace the deck one lane at a time in four phases over roughly 160 days.

That will enable crews to keep at least one inbound and one outbound lane open at all times. The available lanes will shift throughout the day, according to the flow of traffic in and out of the city, especially during rush hours.

The project will cost about $80 million.

KDKA/NewsChopper 2

Two transit workers accused of racing their buses have been acquitted of the most serious charges against them in a 2014 crash.

Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning said Thursday he believed 47-year-old Juliann Maier and 57-year-old Thomas Frauens were racing on Interstate 279. But he cleared them of reckless endangerment charges and acquitted Frauens of leaving the scene of an accident.

Manning found both fired Port Authority drivers guilty of summary offenses and fined the pair.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced Thursday it will fine ride-sharing company Uber for operating in the state between February and August 2014 without a license.

The PUC voted 3-2 to fine Uber $11.4 million — a record amount for the Commission. The PUC initially considered a fine of nearly $50 million, but lowered the figure to $11.4 million because Uber “modified its internal practices” to comply with state law, PUC Commissioner John Coleman Jr. said in a release.

Allegheny County Airport Authority

The Allegheny County Airport Authority is rebranding as its international arm courts new partnerships and adds additional routes.

The new look includes a colorful logo unveiled Monday and a change in signage and local advertising campaign. Allegheny County Airport Authority Spokeswoman Alyson Walls said concept delivery and development cost about $60,000 and was in the works since late last year.  

A collaboration with Visit Pittsburgh aims to improve the experience of those traveling to the city, Walls said.

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Around 55,000 commuters who cross the Liberty Bridge on a daily basis may need to choose a different route starting this month.

An $80.08 million renovation project begins at the end of April and finishes sometime in 2018, according to PennDOT District 11 spokesman Steve Cowan.

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.

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