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Pittsburgh Transportation Projects

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The Mon-Faye Expressway (I-576) will offer an alternative to the east of the I-79 N-S corridor and already runs from I-68 in Morgantown WV all the way up the Steel Valley to just south of downtown where construction has stopped in Clairton:

mfe.gif

The red section is the one currently being completed nearest the city.

Here is a close up of the city section which is still being debated hotly, it will fork just north of where it is currently stopped one side to the east and Monroeville and the Turnpike and one side within a few miles of downtown and I-376, this way it will offer a bypass to the Squirrel Hill Tunnels.

PATPK43plan.jpg

Here are some artist renderings of the proposed city side (both legs):

PATPK43prop1.jpg

PATPK43prop3.jpg

PATPK43prop4.jpg

PATPK43prop5.jpg

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Ew, I don't want that thing. Can't they stop it outside the city? :(

At least I hope they will find a way to minimize it's impact on the riverfront.

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I'm with you on that one Gerbil, I'd rather see them expand the SH Tunnell and possibly only bring it up through Turtle Creek on the East, but then again Turtle Creek is going to lose some very nice historical structures.

What really gets my goat is why not just align the western branch on the south and west bank of the Mon, why does it have to slice Hazelwood directly in half, that neighborhood is just starting to come back to life, besides we need an expressway connection to the southside and waterworks, why not build it on that side of the river.

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I'm with you on that one Gerbil, I'd rather see them expand the SH Tunnell and possibly only bring it up through Turtle Creek on the East, but then again Turtle Creek is going to lose some very nice historical structures.

What really gets my goat is why not just align the western branch on the south and west bank of the Mon, why does it have to slice Hazelwood directly in half, that neighborhood is just starting to come back to life, besides we need an expressway connection to the southside and waterworks, why not build it on that side of the river.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Building it on the south side of the river will likely take up river front space there and that side actually has been more promising for riverside development than the north side (South Side Works, Waterfront, etc.)

I actually have some serious doubts that this will ever get built since there's too much opposition. Most likely, some compromise solution such as improving PA 51 will result. I know its inadequate but so is E. Ohio Street and that's what we're left with since PA 28 was never competed into the city.

The whole problem seems to reside with the Sq. Hill Tunnels since the Mon-Fay could otherwise jsut simply use the eastern leg and all traffic into the city can funnel down the Parkway East (which won't be much longer than having it use the western leg). However, the tunnels will create a bottleneck.

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I support the project in general, but agree with concerns about specific routes through the most urban parts. There is no easy to go into the city, but the Mon Valley is so seriously lacking in a good highway to go to the city. Additionally the bypass for the SH Tunnel is a plus. What is disappointing is why is the State allergic to highways with more than 2 lanes in a given direction. What a waste that this is being planned to underachieve and create dangerously crowded roads where an accident leaves no additional lanes to get around it... where the rush hour flow of 100,000+ plus will have to squeeze into 2 lanes. Insanity.

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I agree I think another set of tunnels in SH and Mt. Washington even would be a huge benefit for traffic flow.

Route 28 into Interstate 280 and extending it up past Kittaning to I-80 would be a lot better too.

I wouldn't mind if they just stopped that Mon-Fay at Duquesne and improved 887 through the valley.

The tollroad up to Pittsburgh and Monroeville will be ok I guess but as you mentioned urban they can't put the road on the otherside of the valley, they could build 2 bridges though to bypass the Hazelwood section one right around Sandcastle and above the Waterfront and then one on the outskirts of the Southside to make that connection to the Parkway East. Basically a nice little bypass keeping Hazelwood intact.

Probably will increase the cost exponentially with the addition of 2 bridges BUT we do need an interstate grade connection to the booming southside and Southside Works entertainment/shopping complex as well as that new development Betters is building above it in Hays, an interstate bridge would do wonders for traffic flow and relieve the Hot Metal and Birmingham bridges.

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I'm not supportive of this project at all:

From 1982 to 1997, 201,800 acres of land was converted from rural to urban land use in the Pittsburgh msa, an increase of 42.6 percent. This is understandable for areas experiencing growth spurts, but for an area like Pittsburgh which experienced only a 2.5% increase in the number of households, this is quite astonishing. This means that 8.5 acres was added to every household, with the national average at 1.3 acres per added household.

No wonder this region is experiencing decline in people ages 25-34. There is a serious cultural problem in Pittsburgh where the baby boomers, baby bust, and retirees are buying these housing in the suburbs, leaving the city to rot. This is setting a really bad example for the next generation of workers because they will see a rotting city and then will move to the suburbs because this new highway will further enable sprawl.

Can't help to mention that Toronto and Montreal have the least number of highway miles per capita in North America. And compare the downtowns and neighborhoods of those cities to those of Pittsburgh. Its the difference between day and night.

Brookings Institute Website

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Agreed. Luckily, I think there have been signs of younger people making an investment in the city core. And of developers building new housing and renovating old buildings within the city. So maybe the younger generation's desire for a vibrant city will be strong enough that those who can do it will actually work to make it so. (I say "those who can do it" because I myself am young and like living in the city, but I don't have the money to renovate a building, LOL)

But anyway, I am strongly against the Mon Fay. And I hate the way the state is pushing it on us. So many people in local gov't are against it, and yet, here it comes. "We spent the money on planning it an building the first part," says the state, "so we're gonna finish it whether you want it or not!"

Now why can't the push city/county consolidation on us? <_<

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Along these lines another project that just now got the greenlight from the feds (and work should be starting any month now), the Northshore connector on the Pittsburgh Subway (or "T"):

NS_MAP_9-04_sm.jpg

And a better one from the post-gazette:

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According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

describe it as "the first of its kind, a day-lit underground station complemented by a new, sunken plaza adjacent to the proposed station."

The plaza would be built in the grassy triangle of Gateway Center bounded by Stanwix Street, Liberty Avenue and Penn Avenue, across from Fifth Avenue Place. Most of the station would be enclosed in glass, reflecting some of the architecture in the nearby PPG Place. . .

20050125HOgateway_450.jpg

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05025/447600.stm

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Can't help to mention that Toronto and Montreal have the least number of highway miles per capita in North America.  And compare the downtowns and neighborhoods of those cities to those of Pittsburgh. Its the difference between day and night.

There's a difference in attitudes also, though. Canadians are generally more Old World than Americans. That, I think, is the primary difference between Canadians and Americans. Thus, they tend to prefer city life and don't guard thier privacy as much as Americans. Americans, on the other hand, are into having more privacy and, as a result, tend to prefer suburbs. Even in urban environments, Americans tend to prefer living in detached homes in residential areas. In Toronto and Montreal, on the other hand, you often have row-homes and commercial districts evenly spaced.

I think its this cultural difference that drove the suburbanization of America and, as a consequence of that, drove the building of the freeways. Of course Toronto also had a large freeway plan but much of that was completely nixed due to citizen opposition back in the 60's and 70's. While there is much citizen opposition now in the U.S., back in the 60's and 70's, the suburban desire of the nation generally favored the building of such highways. Even today, I think the U.S. is still much more pro-highway than Canada.

There is a sign of interst in urban environments in the U.S., driven mostly (from what I've seen) by yougner people and retirees who have been abroad (usually to Europe) and gotten hooked on the urban environments there and want to bring elements of that back home. Since most of these travellers live on the East and West Coast or in Chicagoland, the cities on the coasts and Chicago are the first to see this revival.

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Along these lines another project that just now got the greenlight from the feds (and work should be starting any month now), the Northshore connector on the Pittsburgh Subway (or "T"):

I find it interesting that the map shows three possible routes for future expansion. I can't imagine where it would expand to from these points, however. I imagine the extension going out from the Covnention Center branch probably will be to Oakland (via running the traisn down the East Busway). The two extensions northward from the North Shore line, however, are a mystery

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^^good points on both the "T" and Canada (though I wouldn't say its totally unlike the U.S. in its love for the auto).

Given that the current expansion of the subway probably won't be complete till 2008 or 2009 and it is the first expansion of the system since the mid 1980's you and I will be collecting social security and possibly flying around in our own cars before they get the "north side" links even mapped out :lol:

What has been proposed is that the expansion (although it is on the "northshore") by Heinz Field as it is pointing west towards the airport follows the McKeesRocks Bridge and goes to the West Hills for an Airport link. Now that is something I hope they get started on real quick ;)

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I like the look ofthe new T station downtown. But it looks from the pic like they intend to move the road closer to Gateway Center 4? Big project!

Nevermind, I was thinking the pic was from a different angle. LOL

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Yeah I wondered about the angle also. If I'm correct (and after a few hours of looking at it) your looking out to the Point and the Ft. Pitt Bridge when looking at it, the station has moved to the median from the side over by the Kossman, if I'm right on that one. ;)

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By the way, will they retain the Penn Park station after the Convention Center station is built? My guess is no. Quite a waste then! One suppoed benefit of the Penn Park station was for quick transfers to the East Busway (my guess is that it benefits mostly South Hills commuters going to Oakland). However, it never lived up to expectations. It seems like PAT has given up on this.

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The old Penn Station one I believe will still run, its a bit complex but if you think about it there'd be no reason to discontinue it (besides the link you mentioned between south hills residents and Oakland busses, the most traffic on that short route is for masses of workers from the Hill and the East End areas (slum areas) using the downtown free subway to get to the Metro Goldbus terminal at the Amtrak station there and on to the Eastend and Hill). The new Convention route will be underground and could be expanded to the Strip and Lawrenceville, and on, whereas the Penn Park route becomes above ground soon after leaving the Steel Plaza station and if it is ever expanded will follow the eastbusway route high above (and removed from) the strip and Lawrenceville etc.

PennPark does still operate for the eastsiders coming and going from work the route is 42S "T" Subway service, mainly in the morning and afternoon. As I mentioned above its primarly as a link up for the East Busway for downtown workers (possibly coming from as far away as Firstside or Gateway).

To think about it both routes could piggyback the last quarter mile into Steel Plaza and operate as seperate destination routes.

Here is some more pics on the proposed Northshore link:

New Gateway station street view:

Slide1.jpg

Convention Center station:

Slide4.jpg

Heinz Field above ground station:

Slide5.jpg

Slide6.jpg

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It seems to me like every independent bureaucracy is trying to address the same problem of congestation as best as they see fit and all at the same time, regardless of what anyone else is or can do to help.

Meanwhile the turnpike is the worst idea ever. I don't see how it would benefit in any way anyone who actually lives in Pittsburgh and enabling more sprawl has never solved any traffic problems, either. It would just tear up and devalue areas important to pittsburgh's future vitality for the benefit of some hillbilly rednecks from out of town. Pittsburghers would be left with yet another clogged up artery that they have to face on a daily basis just to get from point a to point b inside of the city. What's more is that the projected traffic patterns that the proposals are based on seem to have been a pack of lies. In other words it's pretty much just an act of raping and pillaging the city for what she's worth.

Looking at traffic as just a homogeneous number like "100,000" is just wrong. That number breaks down significantly based on the trip someone is making. The SHT for example is in most cases the only viable alternative to get from downtown to edgewood or from squirrel hill to forrest hills. The horrendous exits near the tunnels, from oakland to edgewood, only contribute to make congestation much worse when there is a lot of local traffic. These exits should be rebuilt, too. If the state is serious about helping the traffic problem they would suggest funding of better alternatives for people inside the city instead of the butcher-knife approach which carves up the local roadways and makes everyone even more dependant on state highways. Their approach has the implicit assumption that it's perfectly okay to leave the city to rot as long as suburbanites are happy for a little while.

What's more is that instead of imposing more thoughtless new projects they should first finish and un-screw-up the ones they already started. If they only pursued those old boring projects with as much glee as they do brand new ones, we wouldn't have as many issues with people driving to the city. Come on.. 28 sucks so bad that people on the far side of penn hills will rather drive to 376 and the squirrel hill tunnels than to take the more direct route. Those neigbhorhoods around 28 are already heavily devalued from the damage that's been done by that half-baked effort, it can't hurt just to finish it. The Blvd of the Allies going into Oakland is yet another sore spot where the state is failing in its promises and obligations to the city when it brings in these projects.

Meanwhile the city should use a little more prowess and look into fixing some of it's own under-developed roads, too. There's so many built-in bottlenecks all over town that could be fixed by re-aligning 1 or 2 block's worth of roads. The city needs to focus on scraping together as many connecting secondary roads as it can so that residents don't have to depend on the highways. But the little deadbeat municipalities clustered around the city's perimeter make it even worse. They have to learn to cooperate on their infrastructure or face the wrath of the distant sprawl.

Getting more light-rail in place is also a huge priority especially because the higher costs of living have to be offset somehow if younger college grads are to have an equal chance here against their counterparts in the free-for-all suburbs. To me, the need for light rail into oakland is a lot more urgent than the current expansion.

I guess that's all I have to say for now.

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^^Blueblack that last paragraph I couldn't agree more with, problem is most of the people in Harrisburg were put there by the suburbanites (since both Philly and Pittsburgh only make up at most 1/4th of the "metro" area in population that means for every "city" representative in Harrisburg pushing for his voters there are FOUR suburbanite representatives or more and the one thing they all have in common is more and more tollways), with this huge outnumbering city projects like mass transit get the back burner or worse, the city reps have to horse trade things like commuter or occupation tax issues to get a piece of the DOT pie to fund mass transit. Though the T goes into the southhills, the suburbanites there would just as willingly fund tollways or interstates or highway improvements whereas the city would make just the opposite the priority.

As far as calling the monvalley residents hillbillies, I would invite you to visit there more, in some of those steel valley towns it is just as urban as much of Pittsburgh (problem is the urbanity only goes for 10 square blocks every third town so again you have the suburbanites rulling things), possibly when it gets down into Fayette County and W.V. but the towns like Donora, Charleroi, McKeesport, Clairton, Mon City, all the way down to Brownsville are more aptly described as "little Pittsburghs". :)

Also it took me a double take to realize what you meant by saying "turnpike", the mon-faye is what I'm thinking your saying, just when I usually hear "turnpike" I'm thinking the mainline, but your right the Mon-Faye is being run by the Turnpike people.

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I am so tired of the suburban legislators pushing things on the city that we don't want, taking city land for their bloody highways.... And then saying the city is poorly run and has created its own problems! :angry:

I am about ready to declare war on the suburbs. Really. This all just steams me so much. I don't know what can be done about it either. But I can't help feeling that one day the city will be nothing but a collection of rotted neighborhoods with highways cutting through, and only Oakland and Downtown will thrive, because they are the destinations of those highways. Everyone will live in the suburbs and drive those highways into Oakland and Downtown for work. But the city will still be expected to maintain its own roads and protect the commuters, so the handful of people still living in the city will get hit hard with taxes. Then they too will move to the suburbs, so nobody is left to fund the city police, fire dept, etc. Then either the whole region will die or the suburban legislators will FINALLY wake up and realize we need to consolidate.

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I am about ready to declare war on the suburbs. Really. This all just steams me so much. I don't know what can be done about it either.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm going to Invade Mt. Lebanon today . . . whos with me :ph34r::ph34r::rofl:

Those commie beotchs :lol:

Seriously though, what can be done about it is consolidation, I keep thinking just like those letters about "hating" sooo so much of what ails this area can be traced back to the 130+ waring fiefdoms that of course do what any entity does best, survive at the price of hurting any competitor municipality or group. So the "hating" isn't racial its those Sewickley people, you know those white people, those rich people or its Wilkinsburg people, you know those blue collar union people, those black people, everything is a continuation of what allegiance you have to the feudal borough mayor, we are just a clobbering together of competing citystates instead of uniting like Ancient Greece finally did or modern day Italy did in the 1800's nope its Milan vs. Naples vs. Venice annddd you know those Venetians those boat bodies those pizza eaters etc. etc. Same thing with the representation in Harrisburg fueling funds to encourage Sewickley can beat Wilkinsburg and all of them can beat Pittsburgh etc. etc.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it Consolidation will beat the cancer of all our ailments, right now some in office are attacking the symptoms of the cancer, the highways or the blight, or the increased cost of not consolidating services and having buying and pricing power, of having surburban malls explode on the scene by competing and overzealous suburbs (take the Waterfront) so busy trying to JUSTIFY their own EXISTANCE that they give them a 10 year (was it 10?) tax credit and DON'T build any infrastructure (look at piddly 857 or the Homestead bridge)! Again they are planning for the 4 sq. miles of Homestead and not the regional upper Mon valley, like a consolidated Pittsburgh could and then could go to Harrisburg with ALL the area legislators and force thorough an infrastructure bill to widen 857 and put in another bridge to Homestead and a spur off 376. Too many times these politicans are only interested in dealing with a problem at a time, and why not the thing that brought them to the dance was the voters of a system that ENCOURAGES us vs. them lets go out today and beat McKeesRocks or Pittsburgh or Robinson to a bloody pulp, instead these guys should be out there beating Cleveland, Philadelphia, the sunbelt the Northwest in attracting capital and industry and academia. Thank God for the Southwest Pennsyvlania Conference and the Airport Authority and Allegheny County homerule they are the shining lights in the darkness and confustion of 500+ metro government units all fighting each other to the death (literally look at whats happening with several of these boroughs under Act 47 reviews) over every last penny and commuter.

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The state really doesn't have any money for major highway projects anymore. That is why most new highway construction is being done by Pa Turnpike (with the costs to be paid for by tolls). This why smaller projects like extending the Alegheny Valley Expressway to link with I-279 are not being taken on. A toll road down thsi stretch would not be viable since few would be willing to pay tolls for jsut that stretch. Plus teh booths would cause even mroe tie-ups (they could go to all EZ pass but that would create another logistical problem). Also, any highway down this stretch would necessarily have to be built on top of East Ohio Street since that's the only viable right of way. People wouldn't go for it since they don't want a free street replaced with a toll road.

This is why projects like teh Mon-Fay are being pushed while the AVE extension is not.

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The Mon-Faye turnpike is the worst idea ever.

This is not something a city that is trying to be progressive would do.

I think with increasing gas prices, environmental concerns etc etc the pendulum is going to swing back and cities with great public transport that are pedestrian friendly are going to have a huge advantage in the future.

This is something Pgh could excel at because all the booming cities out west and in the south are 100% dependant on cars. I think the age of suburbia will begin to subside, the age of excess (see SVUs and Las Vegas) will begin to subside and the rust belt will rise again!!!!!!!!!! Okay got a little excited there....

Why can't we ever do anything on the forefront, we are always playing catch up. This type of turnpike would have been appropriate in the 80s, we are going backwards. (And we are going to carve up our beautiful natural landscape in the process...I want to puke)

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Why can't we ever do anything on the forefront, we are always playing catch up.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Because of the state gov't. Lots of great ideas get proposed but they simply do not happen. Can Western PA split off as its own state? LOL

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Ok I have another post =)

As far as being progressive, I don't think we can make decisions based on a hoped-for imminent doom. It has to be based on sound economics now. The city has to know where it stands. It has to know what it's citizens are paying for that they can't get in the sprawl.

As far as war on the suburbs, I'm all for it. Economic war. I think Pittsburgh has to learn how to be aggressive. Sometimes I think I even see that. South Side Works, that's aggressive. I think it's a war of attrition that we can outlast. The sprawl can only grow so much before it chokes on itself, and that's when the city raises out-of-town taxes.

If the state wants to blight us with surgically implanted feeding tubes and we're the food, we can threaten to raise taxes on commuters to intolerable levels. Playing our cards right, the city can attract more business than any suburb and have attractive residences ready to go when the worst congestation starts showing up outside of city limits.

While the state looks at transportation as a question of where it can make the biggest mark with the least amount of thought and the most spending, the city has to do the reverse. The best way to keep the state out of the city is to keep the city off of the state roads. So if the city has to hustle and shove a little and demolish a few buildings and realign a few street corners then it's so much less drastic than the Mon-Feye.

My one idea: depress Mcardle roadway to below the Liberty Tube entrance, realign a couple intersections and bust through a block or two so it better connects with the Birmingham Bridge, and we will have 1000% better use of all of that infastructure.

On some of those narrow roads around town blighted by parking build a few metered (or free :) ) thoughtfull parking garages. Face it: cars are here to stay for some time yet and we can only afford so much public transit. It's easier to demolish a few garages in the future than to deal with miles of huge highways. Let more people (and students!) keep cars in the city so they're not pressed to move the hell out cos they're tired of broken side mirrors. I really don't get this aversion to having more parking spaces. It's the worst idea ever for whatever it's supposed to accomplish, it's just another thing that drives people out and creates more highway commutters in the long run.

And then there's all the ridiculous one-way streets with on-street parking on both sides. BUILD A PARKING GARAGE damn it! What's the point of having one way streets that force opposing traffic onto main roads that are already congested? I don't like the whole new-urbanist "narrow tree-lined avenues" idea because I just can't see how it will work to the benefit of cities competing against state-imposed expressways.

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