A chaotic 24 hours that included three separate votes to pass a transportation bill in the state House finally ended last night with a 104-95 vote to approve a gas-tax increase that will help fund mass transit, bridge and highway projects.
The bill passed along with a hotly contested change to the state's prevailing wage law, which I explained in a story in this week's City Paper (on newsstands now!)
In fact, on Monday night, two unsuccessful votes in the House made it look like the bill might be doomed as long as the House Republican prevailing wage proposal was attached.
But the prevailing wage change, which would cut workers' wages on small construction projects, meant plenty of local Democrats voted against the bill including Frank Dermody, Dan Miller, Anthony DeLuca, Dom Costa and Paul Costa. Plenty of Republicans voted against it too, including Daryl Metcalfe and Mike Turzai. The Trib has an info-graphic roundup of how Western Pennsylvania legislators voted.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty is now urging the state Senate to back an amendment that would strip the prevailing wage piece of the House bill, a sign that the prevailing wage debate may not quietly fade.
In a meeting lasting just a few minutes, the Port Authority board convened for the first time since a new law took effect that allows state officials to appoint five of the expanded 11 member board.
Gov. Tom Corbett, who is allowed one appointee, has not yet announced his pick.
In a unanimous vote, the board elected Robert Hurley as Chairman, Thomas E. Donatelli as vice chairman, Constance Parker as treasurer and Jim Brewster as secretary. Hurley, Donatelli and Parker served on the board before it was reconfigured this summer.
Republican and Democratic leaders in the state legislature each appoint two board members, a move that some worry will recreate political fault lines that already exist in Harrisburg on the county transit board.
Rep. Dom Costa, a Democrat, is optimistic.
“There’s a political aspect to the board now,” he says, adding that the Republican appointees are “looking out for the interests of everyone.”
D. Raja, who ran against County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in 2011, and was nominated for the Port Authority post by Senate Republicans, echoed that sentiment, saying the issues facing the board will require mutual respect and cooperation.
A complete list (to date) of the board appointments is after the jump.
Bike down Forbes Avenue in Oakland and you’ll often be tempted to swerve around a 61C that has stopped to pick up passengers, or tangle with a confused freshman who is navigating crosswalks for the first time away from home.
But what if bikes had their own dedicated space, totally separated from traffic? What if traveling on two wheels didn't mean navigating the city's incongruous bike lanes?
That’s what BikePGH, the city's cycling advocacy group, hopes will happen in six key bikeway corridors all over the city by 2020.
That stretch in Oakland would look like this:
The Mon Incline will be closed from 9.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday for routine electrical and track maintenance.
The Port Authority will provide shuttle buses between the incline's upper and lower stations during the closure.
For more information, call Customer Service at 412-442-2000 (TTY 412-231-7007).
House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has appointed state Rep. Dom Costa to the Port Authority board of directors.
Costa is a former Pittsburgh chief of police and serves as chairman of the Allegheny County legislative delegation in the House of Representatives.
“He understands better than most how the city of Pittsburgh is interconnected with the rest of Allegheny County,” Dermody said in a press release issued this afternoon. “He has been a consistent advocate for mass transit in the state budget process and he approaches his work in Harrisburg with the kind of regional perspective that will be crucial to the success of the Port Authority going forward.”
Costa is the fifth new board appointee under a new state law restructuring the board, that takes effect later this month. The board will become an 11-member entity with representatives selected by the Governor, County Executive and Democrat/GOP caucuses of the House and Senate.
Other appointments that have been made to date: Democratic Senate Leader Jay Costa appointed State. Sen. Jim Brewster; Republican Senator President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati appointed Republican businessman and politician D. Raja; and county executive Rich Fitzgerald reappointed former board members John Tague and Thomas Donatelli.
Fitzgerald, along with Gov. Tom Corbett and House Republicans has additional appointments to make by mid-September.
The state is seeking public input on transportation priorities as part of a regular update to its blueprint for projects.
Residents interested in participating can take an online survey at the State Transportation Commission's website, where they can also register for the commission's first interactive online public meeting.
The input collection is part of a regular update to the state's 12-year Transportation Program, which is a cooperative effort among the State Transportation Commission (STC), PennDOT and 23 regional planning partners.
“These new ways to involve the public in our planning process replace our old method of using in-person public meetings and written testimony,” PennDOT Secretary and STC Chairman Barry J. Schoch said in a press release issued today. “Our modernized process makes it easier for the public to share their priorities and concerns with us, which gives us a more complete picture of transportation needs as we update our program.”
The online public meeting will be held from 6-7 p.m.,Thurs., Sept. 26. Schoch will discuss transportation issues and answer questions from registered participants during the webcast. Questions may be submitted in advance to email@example.com.
Public feedback is being collected through Oct. 7 via the online survey; emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to request a printed survey copy; or via telephone at 1-855-896-4930.
Port Authority's 9-member board of directors today bid farewell in its final meeting, as a new board will be appointed next month per new state law.
But the break will be short for current members John Tague and Thomas Donatelli, whose appointments were submitted to county council by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald this afternoon.
As we noted in this week's issue, Fitzgerald has six picks on the new, 11-person panel whose structure was approved by Gov. Tom Corbett July 18.
Two of Fitzgerald's picks have to be from a pool of nominees submitted by civic groups: the Allegheny Conference, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and the Committee for Accessible Transportation. Donatelli and Tague are the picks from the list.
Fitzgerald says he's still evaluating the rest of his appointments, but says riders should not be worried about having a new board.
"We're going to continue to improve the system ... the rail system, the bus system, it's going to continue to get better," he told City Paper last week. "With this new board in place, and in time with a new CEO, all of those things will make the system more progressive, more user-friendly, more customer-friendly and more reliable. That's our goal."
Fitzgerald has four appointments remaining. The rest of the board will include one appointee each from the governor, and from the Democratic and Republican caucuses in both the state House and Senate.
Senate Democrats last week appointed State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport) to the board. Appointments are due by mid-September.
The new board will be tasked with hiring a CEO, a process outgoing chairman Jeff Letwin said this morning had been suspended on account of the restructuring.
The state Department of Transportation today announced weight restrictions for about 1,000 structurally deficient bridges across the state.
The restrictions are a result of state lawmakers failing to pass a transportation-funding bill earlier this summer, and are something PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch has threatened would be an outcome of inaction.
The weight reductions, PennDOT said in a press release, will slow down bridge "deterioration and preserve safety while funding for their repairs remains uncertain." A number of state- and locally owned bridges in Allegheny County, including the Liberty Bridge, will receive the restrictions — which begin Aug. 29.
“For months I’ve been explaining to Pennsylvanians and to lawmakers that there are very real consequences to not enacting a transportation funding plan,” Schoch said in a press release. “Without additional revenues anticipated in the future, I have to make the safe and responsible decision to reduce how much weight is crossing these deteriorating bridges.”
Schoch went on to say that even if the legislature passes a transportation package in the fall, weight restrictions could be removed, at the earliest, within two years, when there would be funding for repairs.
“We have a serious funding need and the legislature still has not acted to pass a comprehensive transportation plan," Shoch said. "I have to look ahead to the future and preserve these bridges because, without action, we will not have money to invest in them for a long time.”
More information on bridge weight restrictions as well as a comprehensive list can be found here.
Riders of the Port Authority P1 East Busway-All Stops route are now able to track real-time locations of the bus as part of a pilot program launched today.
Real-time arrival information for the P1 is only available online, but the authority will install electronic countdown signs at various stops along the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway next month.
The P1 route, according to the agency, will be used to test and demonstrate the new system. It's expected to expand the service to additional routes in early 2014 and have most of the bus system covered by 2015.
"The request that I get most often when we talk about bus service is for real-time information so that people can plan for when their bus is arriving," Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a press release announcing the pilot. "We've wanted to see this for a very long time and I'm excited that we're taking that first step forward and am really looking forward to seeing the full system operational for all riders in Allegheny County."
For questions or assistance, contact Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000 (TTY 412-231-7007).
The Port Authority has announced detours for about 40 bus routes that will have temporary stop changes due to tonight's GNC Live Well Liberty Mile footrace event in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Liberty Avenue and Penn Avenue from Stanwix Street to 11th Street will be closed tonight, detouring buses from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Riders can view detour information online, or by calling Customer Service at 412-442-2000 (412-231-7007).
And yet, despite this injustices related to funding, you idiots still keep voting for liberals…
"public health experts worry about a lack of funding for interventions benefiting the LGBT population,…
The government has been steadily reducing the amount of money dedicated for research funded by…