infrastructure

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

A route was selected, preliminary studies were planned and local officials intended to submit grant applications to fund the Bus Rapid Transit corridor in the fall.

Those plans may now be on hold.

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget provides no funding for new projects under the federal Capital Investment Grant which was expected to provide about $80 to $100 million for the roughly $233 million project, said Robert Rubinstein, executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

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.

On Tuesday, May 16, three candidates will be on the ballot to become the next mayor of the city of Pittsburgh. Voters will decide who will oversee city government for the next four years and who will serve as Pittsburgh's ambassador. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week’s topics include a look at what could happen in Pennsylvania if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. We'll discuss the contract negotiations between Mayor Bill Peduto and the Fraternal Order of Police. Also, we'll look at plans to get funding to repair Pennsylvania's bridges and roads.

Joseph Kaczmarek / AP

Heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness. For some people, crossing a bridge induces the same physiological responses as those experienced by an animal frozen in fear, said Dr. Rolf Jacob, a professor of psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.

Keith Srakocic / AP File Photo

Pennsylvania needs significant infrastructure updates. President-elect Donald Trump has proposed $1 trillion worth of work to improve the country’s airports, bridges, and roads, all funded by private investors.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Moving people from one place to another means traffic: highway jams, crowded buses, and overworked subways. But one transit option remains blissfully serene: cable-propelled transit systems.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is a pretty good place to talk about why reliable infrastructure matters, said Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

 

Municipal officials from around the country grappled with changes in transportation, such as self-driving cars and rail safety, while meeting in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

This week, Pittsburgh is hosting 3,000 mayors and council members from around the country, as well as local leaders, for the National League of Cities' annual City Summit. They’ll meet through Saturday to discuss the challenges currently facing cities and share best practices for energy efficiency, working with startups and increasing transparency.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Advocates from Lawrenceville-based advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh said a fatal accident this week between a motorist and cyclist could have been prevented.

PHOTOS: At 100 Years Old, National Parks Need $12 Billion In TLC

Aug 25, 2016
William J. Smith / AP

 

The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this week. On August 26, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act putting 35 parks and monuments nationwide —including Yellowstone and Yosemite — under the new federal agency.

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission

Two deteriorating dams at man-made fishing lakes in southwestern Pennsylvania will be repaired beginning next year as part of a $25 million statewide investment announced by Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has dubbed 10 dams, including those at Lake Somerset and Donegal Lake, “high-hazard” and “unsafe.” The designations mean that if the dams were to fail during heavy rain, property would be damaged and people could potentially die in the ensuing flood.

Matt Rourke / AP

As Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton heads off on her post-convention campaign trip, she’ll stop in Pittsburgh on Saturday where she is expected to talk about her jobs initiative. 

Clinton said, if elected, she will launch “the largest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II.” The plan includes a goal of bringing “affordable broadband Internet to all Americans by 2020.” 

Just seven weeks before the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the governor of Rio de Janeiro has declared a "state of calamity." Interim Governor Francisco Dornelles says the state's government is bankrupt and can't meet its financial commitments ahead of the games.

Why Is Pennsylvania’s Water Expensive?

Feb 27, 2016
nekidtroll / flickr

A recent ranking of the nation's 500 largest water systems found the highest rates charged by private companies in Pennsylvania.

Aging infrastructure and an investor-friendly regulatory climate contribute to costs, experts say.

This caught our attention because multiple commonwealth cities are considering privatizing water treatment and delivery, or have done it recently.

Why do cities consider privatizing? To finance system improvement, generate cash for a relatively unrelated obligation, or both.

 

Findings

Connecting Pittsburgh's Urban Landscape

Jan 5, 2016
David Brossard / flickr

More bike lanes, benches and signs guiding residents and visitors to the next Downtown location are just some of the changes that could be in store for Pittsburgh. But if space annexed by one mode of transportation will be missed by the others, what tensions could be created? PublicSource reporter Eric Holmberg has explored this question and joins us to look at how people's use of public spaces and major streets is evolving in the Steel City.                   

The Changing Face Of Pittsburgh

Jan 5, 2016
Flickr

As the city continues to earn accolades as an example of urban reinvention, how will the changing face of its neighborhoods impact the city and will everyone benefit? We’ll pose those questions to Diana Nelson Jones who writes the Walkabout column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and John Conti, freelance architectural columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Repairing Pennsylvania's Aging Bridges

Dec 7, 2015
Luke H. Gordon / flickr

Hundreds of bridges across the commonwealth are in desperate need of repair or replacement. Many of them are in Allegheny County. Since Pennsylvania is home to some of the oldest infrastructure in the country, a public-private partnership is working to replace a number of these bridges.

daveynin / flickr

While he was in Bellagio, Italy last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed on to a pledge to commit at least 10 percent of the city’s operating and capital budgets to making Pittsburgh a more resilient city, a move that Pittsburgh Chief Resilience officer Grant Ervin said is extremely timely.

“Look, for example, at some of the challenges that are being faced right now in South Carolina,” said Ervin, referring to the massive flooding that has displaced hundreds of residents.  “How do you clean up quickly and then how do you become a stronger city following the event?”

Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

Christoph Mertz spends his days looking at cracks in the street.

“Once you’re involved in something like this, you see every crack in the road, every pothole, you say, ‘ohhh, this is interesting,’” he said as he wove around sizeable potholes on the narrow streets behind Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said this week he wants to prevent a provision in the federal transportation spending bill that would allow 85-foot tractor-trailers on Pennsylvania roads because he believes the bigger rigs will exacerbate state infrastructure problems.

These “Twin 33” trucks are 17 feet longer than the current 68-foot models.

The State Of Sewer Pipelines In Pennsylvania

Jul 8, 2015
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Pennsylvania is an old state, one where people settled and built infrastructure early. That means much of the infrastructure in the Commonwealth’s cities is breaking down with age, needs expensive maintenance, retrofits, or replacement, or just doesn’t fit with contemporary ideas of urban planning. Add to that many cities’ struggling budgets, which keep sewer repairs and maintenance from being addressed in a timely manner.

Mayor Bill Peduto has appointed Grant Ervin as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer, a position funded through a Rockefeller Foundation grant.

His first task: developing a plan to enable the city to survive, adapt and grow no matter the challenge it will face.

Ervin has served as the city’s Sustainability Manager since 2014. He will now transition into working with stakeholders across the city to determine the key threats facing the city, then work to draft a resilience strategy with the help of the other 99 Chief Resilience Officers in the world.

At Penn State, Researchers Looking For The Next Big Thing In Infrastructure

Apr 27, 2015
Kate Lao Shaffner / WPSU

On the surface, Dr. Farshad Rajabipour's job might not sound that interesting. He's an associate professor of civil engineering at Penn State. And he studies concrete.

"It's actually a material that's used pretty much everywhere in the world," Rajabipour said. "It's so common that people don't notice it."

Pittsburgh Ranks in Middle of Nationwide Sprawl Survey

Jan 12, 2015

A recent report by the nonprofit advocacy group Smart Growth America offers a mixed assessment of suburban sprawl in the Pittsburgh area.

Within a sample of 221 metropolitan areas across the U.S., Pittsburgh ranks 132nd for the compactness and connectivity of its suburban communities – well behind the largest cities, but better than many of its comparably sized peers.

Phil Quinn / wikipedia

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on 2014 and airing some of the Essential Pittsburgh stories that were most popular on our website, wesa.fm.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

Pittsburgh has some pretty unique topography as far as cities go. It’s basically a peninsula with mountains. With the city’s bridges and its triangular shape, there were many questions to be asked about why the roads aren't more efficient. Traffic and road layouts are the focus of the popular blog, Nonsensical Roads of Pittsburgh, run by Phil Anderson.

“You can consider all of the challenges of the mountainous cities out west, of some of the older cities in the east, and I by far find the most confusing situations here in western Pennsylvania.”

After Phil offered his take on Pittsburgh’s roads as a driver, we heard from two transportation experts: Patrick Hassett, assistant director of the Pittsburgh Public Works Department overseeing the Bureau of Transportation, and Dan Cessna, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's local district executive.