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My proposal for Pittsburgh Transportation

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I broke this down into two parts, first the image of our transportation system doesn't make Pittsburgh downtown the regions hub, oh sure within a 10 mile radius or so all roads lead to downtown, but for the average American driving through this metroplex Pittsburgh is either the bridge over the Ohio and Neville Island or the fields of Plum or northern Butler county farms as the "main road" to the "hub" is an interstate "spur" a three digit afterthought. I have often wondered if the sunbelt cities secret to success is that the mainline 2 digit interstates (95, 10, etc.) go straight through the heart of downtown Miami and Phoenix and Houston so if this is your first time in Texas or Florida or Arizona there is no way you can miss the picture postcard view of "breathtaking" Miami or Phoenix etc., well unless of course you want to take that "three digit beltway", Pittsburgh is just the opposite and to well traveled Americans they become confused on I-80, 79, 70 and 76 when they are "close" to Pittsburgh but only see rolling hills of farmland and a Sheetz gas station, this might be why Pittsburgh is dealing with the image of a "tiny little steeltown hasbeen" because all the powerbrokers coming out of NYC see I-80 farmland or out of DC see I-70 sheetz stations and never the miles and miles of urbanity followed by the sparkling downtown. So this is what I propose, with the addition of the Mon-Fay, and a few "interstating" of high traffic corridors such as 28 and Ohio River Blvd. along with the proposed "airport expressway" from Robinson Town Center to PA60 across the river from McKeesRocks, I would renumber all regional interstates to put some pride and "centricity" back in the 'burgh in the minds of the average cross country road trip family.

First all "mainline" interstates will flow directly into the downtown area of Pittsburgh.

For Interstate 80 (which YES does cross into Pittsburgh's Metroplex! in both Lawrence and Butler Counties) I would have it take the moniker I-780, the mainline 80 would tell the world that Pittsburgh--the actual city-- is to the south it would ride PA60 down to Beaver Falls and I-76 there it would hop off PA60 and follow a to-be-built expressway along the Beaver Valley and link up with Ohio River Blvd. and ride that into Pittsburgh and take over for 279 along the northshore and then take PA28 up and out the Allegheny Valley, then be interstated through Punxsawtawny to finally hook up with I-780 (the present day 80) before it got into the State College Area.

For Interstate 76 I would have it ride PA60 south down and around the airport and at Robinson Town Center it would branch out to a to-be-built and presently proposed "Airport Expressway" that would go north parallel to the parkway west

and come out to McKees Rocks area and then hit present day Ohio River Blvd. on the other side of the River, it would however be a dual interstate with new construction since Ohio River Blvd. would be I-80, I-76 would cross over to the point on the Ft. Duquesne Bridge and instead of crossing the park would ride Ft. Duquesne Blvd. up and around downtown take an expanded east busway to North Oakland and then take the Ravine down to what is now the parkway east but would be I-70, it would then make I-70 take a new or rehabed hot metal bridge over the Mon as I-76 would follow the parkway east all the way out to the turnpike, I would like new construction to extend it out even to the Amos Hutchinson where it would finally flow back into the 70/76 combo at New Stanton.

For Interstate 70 I would go out to Ohio and W.V. and follow the interstate grade expressways north of Wheeling up through Wierton till it

As we all know Pittsburgh suffers from some of the worst roads and bridges in the country (Pennsylvania has ranked 2nd worst overall in road quality in the last few years). Although PennDOT does do heroic and massive rehab and repair work around the area, the region has always suffered from a lack of an overall vision on transportation. (Again the lack of consolidation in fact the direct opposite of it with over 130 governments in the core county is a big reason for this absence of metro vision, even if PennDOT had a great plan it would need 130 clocks to chime all at the same time).

Infrastructure improvements:

My first step would be to interstate grade all limited access highways in the region including PA60 out by the airport, 22/30, totally redesign the parkway east to make it less of a luge, Route 28 especially, etc.

Second:

Heavy vehicle corridors such as McKnightmare road, Ohio River Blvd. and 51 in the southhills would either be turned into interstates or be "stacked" with interstates on top of them allowing for rapid through traffic and local traffic, on the map these roads would appear as a hybrid with the elevated lanes being interstates and the lower level lanes being the existing roadbed complete with traffic stops.

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Traffic-wise, the overall layout of Pittsburgh's system - with mainline highways skirting the city and spurs and loops into the city - is the envy of city planners since it keeps extraneous through traffic (especially truck traffic) out of the city. Granted, it doesn't do much for Pittsburgh's presence to have Ohio hanving signs for I-80 saying "New York" and signs for I-70 saying "Wheeling".

Philadelphia has the same issue since, while I-95 does go through it, msot traffic heads along the NJ Turnpike which skirts around it since I-95 isn't finished in NJ (even if it were, the NJ Tpk is such an effective bypass route that most through traffic would use it anyway). In fact, MD has I-95 north of Baltimore signed as going to "New York". They also had a special on PBS about travelling I-95 from Maine to Fla and they completely skipped all of PA saying that the NJ Tpk was the effective I-95. So they went straight from northern NJ down to DE without any mention of Philadelphia.

As for Miami, I don't think anyone travelling I-95 just "happens" to pass through Miami on thier way to somewhere else. Miami is the terminus and thus the destination point of I-95. Speaking of which, Miami is kind of screwed that way since they don't have an interstate linking their southern suburbs. US 1 south of the city is a traffic-clogged long ride. It is kind of interesting to see the end of I-95 though. For such a major highway, it ends without any fanfare jsut outside downtown Miami near Little Havana.

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Traffic-wise, the overall layout of Pittsburgh's system - with mainline highways skirting the city and spurs and loops into the city - is the envy of city planners since it keeps extraneous through traffic (especially truck traffic) out of the city.  Granted, it doesn't do much for Pittsburgh's presence to have Ohio hanving signs for I-80 saying "New York" and signs for I-70 saying "Wheeling". 

Philadelphia has the same issue since, while I-95 does go through it, msot traffic heads along the NJ Turnpike which skirts around it since I-95 isn't finished in NJ (even if it were, the NJ Tpk is such an effective bypass route that most through traffic would use it anyway).  In fact, MD has I-95 north of Baltimore signed as going to "New York".  They also had a special on PBS about travelling I-95 from Maine to Fla and they completely skipped all of PA saying that the NJ Tpk was the effective I-95.  So they went straight from northern NJ down to DE without any mention of Philadelphia.

As for Miami, I don't think anyone travelling I-95 just "happens" to pass through Miami on thier way to somewhere else.  Miami is the terminus and thus the destination point of I-95.  Speaking of which, Miami is kind of screwed that way since they don't have an interstate linking their southern suburbs. US 1 south of the city is a traffic-clogged long ride.  It is kind of interesting to see the end of I-95 though.  For such a major highway, it ends without any fanfare jsut outside downtown Miami near Little Havana.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree with all of the above. While it would be nice for out of towners to be able to get a view of Pittsburgh while on their way elsewhere, it would not be worth the tradeoff of increased traffic etc. In order to handle the increased traffic load, the local highways would need to be greatly enlarged. Due to Pittsburgh's difficult terrain, this would be extremely expensive. It would also do great damage to Pittsburgh's historic neighborhoods. As for main highways passing through cities, There is none in DC, yet it is a booming area. The sunbelt is booming due to warm weather, low taxes, a lack of onerous regulations for business, and a labor climate that is percieved to be favorable to business. Compare this to the high costs of doing business in Pa., and to the reputations of places like Pittsburgh and Philly as hotbeds of unionism, and you can see why businesses are not eager to locate here.

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Let me clarify some of this, the I-80s I-79s and I-70s would indeed be renumbered three digits but would be clearly marked "Pittsburgh Bypass" or "Pittsburgh Beltway" or even "Pittsburgh Greenway" just because I-80 goes into the northshore or I-79 follows 279 in the north and 579 and the new MonFaye in the south or I-70 the MonFaye in Monroeville to Duquesne to Pittsburgh Tech Center and then the Parkway West doesn't mean people HAVE to take them, they would take the "PITTSBURGH greenway" I-780 or I-870 or I-579 around Pittsburgh those would follow the present day tracks of their namesakes.

Also the sunbelt cities do have the "mainlines" go into downtown and the three digits on the outskirts, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Miami, Jacksonville, Charlotte, all have the mainlines go through the skyline.

What really burns me is that after traveling through the threedigit "bypass" in Charlotte or Jacksonville or Atlanta or Houston or Los Angeles people think that when flying through on little dinky two lane 76 or 70 or 79 or 80 that they will see what there is to see of Pittsburgh, and that there is EVEN LESS if they went down 376 or 279.

I don't mind if truckers or people making time take what is today called 80 or 79 or 70 or 76, I just want them marked "Pittsburgh Greenway" or "Pittsburgh Beltway North, etc" and given the "spur" moniker, the mainlines should serve people needing and wanting to get to the center of the metroplex not the other way around.

I love Pittsburgh's regional transportation system, I think it would be insane to dismantle I-80 or I-79, I just want it clear to everyone that you shouldn't expect to see anything on the "greenway" or "beltway west" of 79 spur 679 etc. instead of calling it the "mainline 79", is it just me or doesn't the "mainline" eventually have to take you somewhere big and influential, and if thats the case since being on any of these "mainlines" around this region has downtown Pittsburgh as it's closest hospital/media/academic/governmental center, shouldn't the "mainline" take you there? Similar to most sunbelt cities, if you don't wish to go down into Houston you can choose to take the 610 not the 10, no downtown Jax for you, take the 295 not the 95, etc.

:)

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What really burns me is that after traveling through the threedigit "bypass" in Charlotte or Jacksonville or Atlanta or Houston or Los Angeles people think that when flying through on little dinky two lane 76 or 70 or 79 or 80 that they will see what there is to see of Pittsburgh, and that there is EVEN LESS if they went down 376 or 279.

I doubt if they think that considering that you really don't see anything from 70, 76, 79, or 80.

I love Pittsburgh's regional transportation system, I think it would be insane to dismantle I-80 or I-79, I just want it clear to everyone that you shouldn't expect to see anything on the "greenway" or "beltway west" of 79 spur 679 etc. instead of calling it the "mainline 79", is it just me or doesn't the "mainline" eventually have to take you somewhere big and influential, and if thats the case since being on any of these "mainlines" around this region has downtown Pittsburgh as it's closest hospital/media/academic/governmental center, shouldn't the "mainline" take you there?  Similar to most sunbelt cities, if you don't wish to go down into Houston you can choose to take the 610 not the 10, no downtown Jax for you, take the 295 not the 95, etc.

Perhaps a return to the old 1960's system then? As you mgiht know, the Penn-Lincoln Parkway was indeed once part of I-70 with I-70 deviating from its current position at Washington, heading up what is now I-79 (which hadn't been built yet) and then connecting with the Parkway and then taking that to Monroeville where it joined with the Turnpike. The current I-70 route from Washington to New Stanton was I-70S. As for I-79, it was to have run on the Parkway North which was, back then, part of the mainline to Erie. The section of current I-79 from Franklin Park to Carnegie was to ahve been I-279 and served as the 3-digit western bypass of Pittsburgh. Even I-80 was brought into the mix since the Turnpike was labelled as I-80S. So you basically had I-70 and I-79 going through Pittsburgh and I-80S skirting it.

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Let's be fair, those roads really are wider, straighter, with more efficient interchanges and exits, and overall heavier-duty than the roads going into Pittsburgh. The markings only reflect reality.

I think we're lucky to have the heavy duty highways go around us. I'll take the freight trains any day over that. I love taking people to Bar Luie's at Station Square and watching their reaction when the first train rolls by. But by the end of the night, they're always fascinated that such a place even exists. When automotive transportation collapses, we'll all be kissing the ground those tracks are laid on.

Right now we're on the short list for the Maglev between us and DC. I'm crossing my fingers. That's what we should all hope for. That's the missing link between Pittsburgh and our airport. That will get people to see what Pittsburgh is really all about. DC didn't even need the Metro, they (Congress) waste so much money on grand projects in that city that aren't designed to help anyone except to show off for visiting dignitaries.

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I disagree with the need for more interstates going through Pittsburgh to "show it off" to passersby...

one point I'd like to make is that it is impossible to see Pittsburgh from any of the regional interstates due to the hilly topography... compare this to flat NE Ohio... where you can see the skyscrapers of Cleveland from the interstate 30 miles south. If Pittsburgh was flat... then you would surely be able to see it from 79 and 76... in fact you can even see the tips of USX and Mellon peeking over the hillside from 79 around the Southpointe area (I think)

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Route 22 in Ohio will one day be connected to Columbus as a higway (the highway turns into a 2 lane rural road about a 20-30 miles west of Steubenville).

Now then, at one point, we could have a sign from heading east through Columbus reading "Pittsburgh."

Imagine if the Parkway East didn't end at the Turnpike? Imagine if development wasn't forced to end like a wall... imagine if folks from Pittsburgh, in fact folks from OH and further west could go through Pittsburgh and continue northeasterward to Altoona, State College and I-80... major traffic flow to NYC and North could bypass the Turnpike and take advantage of cutting north and saving time. This should be an interstate. This interestate would be invaluable at opening up Pittsburgh's eastern metro end and creating great access to Altoona and State College... also providing them great access to Pittsburgh.

Now this doesn't have to be a separate road to 22 on the Westmoreland/east part, but some of it would have to be. 22 in Murreysville can't be upgraded to an interstate, so the new road could eventually merge with 22.

I realize there is an effort to rename the Parkways East and West as a new interstate from the turnpike to New Castle or at least the airport and fine do that, but I think that it makes more sense to have what I suggest - an interstate from Columbus to Altoona with one number and have rt 60 from Robinson to New Castle/turnpike northend be the spin-off interstate - the airport insterstate, if you will.

I view this upgrade to be essential as I do widening the existing highways around Allegheny County. The current 4 lanes is dangeriously inadequate.

And as I think I have mentioned here before, the Parkway West heading towards downtown should split towards the tunnel with either a flyover or something similar taking traffic (and all trucks) around the West End and directly linking to the Northside.

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The WestEnd Bridge and 51 to Saw Mill Run Blvd. really could be interstated over, it was partially while tunnel work was underway, also the route 22 situation has always interested me, there really should be an interstate link up with jtown and altoona, I would love to have one of our reps in congress get on and get tenure on the transportation committee and start handing out the pork to the metroplex similar to what Bud Shuster did in central pa. for decades (re: Interstate 99 A FREE Interstate when everyone from Florida to Cali to Greensburg was forced to build tollways!).

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I don't believe the answer to Pittsburgh's transportation problems lie with renaning most of the major surrounding roadways. Though there is a movement of renaming Rt 60, most of the parkway West and the Parkway East all as I 376. 95 does not pass thru DC, it is 395 and 295, and thank goodness for that.

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I agree with most of what you say. Well thought out. There is little room for more Highways to cram into downtown Pittsburgh. This is a good thing. Pittsburgh is different than most cities and this will be it's most attractive feature someday. We mustnt think we should try to be like cities of the mid west. We can't be or shouldnt try to be. This city has its own charm and we need to expand on that.

We should concentrate on expanding the system we have. Rt 28 would become I280, extending it to I80 near Dubois. Where I376 ends in Monroeville it would become I 78. I 78's western limit is now just north of Harrisburg and should be the connector to Altoona and Johnstown, etc. Rt 22 presently is becoming a freeway through the middle of the state, it should become I 78. To change I 376 to I 78 through Pittsburgh would require changing the name of most of the major east-west Interstates in the region. This would be to keep the sequence of the Interstate numbering system. Where I 80 is north of I 78 which is north of I 76 which is north of I 70 etc. It would be complicated but doable.

I 376 would become I 76 and continue to Columbus where rt 22 is presently.

I 78 would continue westward from Monroeville that is now I 76. Much like the Ohio Turnpike changes from I 76 to I 80 now. It would be I 78 to I 80. Now there is a point where I 74 does go south of I 70 at Indianapolis so there are precedents broken.

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Urbani,

That is a great idea for I-78 out of Harrisburg, I know that lots have been mentioned on how great it would be to interstate over or near the US 22 corridor into Jtown and Altoona etc.

More then anything we need a congressman to sit in the transportation committee for 20 years and then these things would start happening real quick. ;)

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