transportation

Colton Point State Park / dcnr.state.pa.us

Bicyclists exploring northern Pennsylvania’s scenery along Route 6, the state’s longest highway segment, can soon expect changes.

This month, PennDOT will collaborate with the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and of Community and Economic Development to find ways to make the route safer and more accessible for bike riders. 

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. 

Google Maps

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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. 

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

This is the third in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2016 with members of Pittsburgh's City Council.

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.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Hands-free systems, supposedly the answer to safe texting and calling in the car, are still distracting us -- even after we're done using them.

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.

Three weeks after rejecting Yellow Cab’s request to impose a surcharge of up to $8 per trip on weekends and holidays, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has tentatively approved two other fare increases for the taxi service.

The PUC rejected one provision of the request but agreed to a jump in the flag drop rate — the starting amount on the meter — from the current $2.25 up to $4 and a 30-cent-per-minute increase in the wait time rate. The charge to customers to have drivers wait will cap at be 55 cents per minute.

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

  Ridership along the Penn Avenue bike lanes is up at least 25 percent since June, according to data released last week by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Spokesperson Leigh White said they counted roughly 1,000 trips per day on average in July. Ridership also spiked on weekends, she said.

Better Bikeways Plan / BikePgh

Pittsburgh may not yet be a mecca for bicyclists and walkers, but local officials are trying to change that and make area roadways accessible for a mixture of transportation options. Efforts are not going unnoticed.

TransitCenter, a group that advocates for public transit and comprehensive transportation policies, released a report this week profiling Pittsburgh among six innovative U.S. cities for transportation policy planning. 

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.

BikePGH

Pittsburgh is putting more capital budget dollars into bicycle lanes and infrastructure this year than it has in recent memory, but it’s still not enough to accommodate the growing number of cyclists on the road, according to Patrick Roberts, Pittsburgh's principal transportation planner.

Pennsylvania ranks worst in the country for structurally deficient rural bridges, according to a report released by the Road Information Program (TRIP).

The report called “Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland,” found that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of improvements to roads and bridges, reducing high crash rates, and increasing connectivity and capacity. 

More than 500 structurally deficient bridges across Pennsylvania are slated for upgrades in the next year and a half.

PennDOT has contracted with Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners in what project manager Dan Galvin calls a unique public-private partnership.

“This is something that’s done quite a bit in Europe and Asia, but it is something rather unique in the United States,” Galvin said.

Amtrak CEO: Railroad Takes 'Full Responsibility' For Crash

May 15, 2015
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

As federal investigators try to find out why an Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia sped up in the last minute before it derailed, the railroad's top official said it takes full responsibility for the deadly wreck.

Joseph Boardman, Amtrak president and CEO, said in a letter on Amtrak's official blog Thursday that it is cooperating fully in an investigation into the accident that killed eight people and injured more than 200 this week.

How The Port Authority Is Trying To Make It Easier To Ride The Bus

May 12, 2015
Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Have you ever tried to take a city bus without planning ahead? We're talking no Google maps, no bus tracker apps, no folded paper timetables. Just you, walking around a neighborhood, trying to catch the bus somewhere.

Probably not. Because in most places, that's not easy to do.

On Tuesday, the city of Pittsburgh and the Port Authority of Allegheny County held the first of two public meetings to gather input on the proposed Forbes-Fifth Corridor.

About a hundred people attended the meeting to listen and share thoughts on the potential transportation infrastructure in the 5th/Forbes Corridor which links Downtown to Oakland, running through Uptown and part of the Hill District.

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."

Flickr user bbyrnes59

Transportation advocates in Pittsburgh and more than 100 other American cities are joining forces to call attention to the fast-approaching expiration of surface transportation funding from the federal government.

Thursday is being billed as Stand Up for Transportation Day. Chris Sandvig, regional policy director from the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, said most people don’t realize that funding is about to dry up.

Major roadway projects were completed this past year in the Pittsburgh area, but several others will get underway or continue in 2015.

“2014 was a significant year,” said Dan Cessna, District 11 executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “We completed the fourth phase of Liberty Tunnel. We completed Squirrel Hill Tunnels, and most significantly we wrapped up four years of construction on Route 28.”

Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

This is the third story of a three-part series on the state's bridges.

About seven years ago, the Bridge Maintenance Engineer for the South Carolina Department of Transportation, Lee Floyd, was concerned about one of his bridge’s ability to hold up while a replacement was built. He placed sensors on the bridge to monitor how it behaved and found that actually he could keep it open without any temporary repairs.

The State of PA's Bridges, Part 2: Rebuilding Them Faster

Dec 9, 2014
Keystone Crossroads

This is the second story of a three-part series on the state's bridges.

Twenty-three percent of Pennsylvania's bridges are structurally deficient, and many need to be replaced. But between permitting, design, and construction, building a new bridge takes years.

That's why the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is trying to speed things up.

The State of PA's Bridges, Part 1: How Are They Holding Up?

Dec 8, 2014
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

This is the first story of our three-part series on the state's bridges.

If you drive in Pennsylvania, you've probably crossed a structurally deficient bridge. Maybe you're driving over one right now.

Pennsylvania has more than 30,000 bridges. Some span rivers, like the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, and others are much smaller, crossing rural creeks and highways. More than 6,000 of these bridges are structurally deficient. (We put together an interactive map of the state's structurally deficient bridges.)

Route 28 outbound, heading away from the city, will be closed overnight through Saturday as workers begin the final push in a four-year project to streamline the artery that runs along the Allegheny River from the northeast.

The major construction, which eliminated traffic lights and created separate exit and entry lanes for the 31st and 40th street intersections, has meant ever-changing traffic patterns and lots of congestion. This last phase includes adjusting lanes, paving and removing and adding barriers.

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