On March 13, the Post-Gazette highlighted two recipient projects of federal stimulus funding dollars: bicycle and pedestrian trails and runways at Pittsburgh International Airport ("Pedal Put to Metal for Bike-Pedestrian Projects" and "FAA Allocating $10 Million for Airport Runway Renovation"). I agree that both are necessary and worthy, and I commend the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and airport authority for successfully securing this funding. However, I challenge our region to go the extra mile by including elements that appear to have been overlooked. As the cliche goes ... the devil is in the details.
For the trails: water fountains and connectivity! It is a constant frustration for me, like many runners and bikers in this region, to travel on a trail system that is missing these essential pieces. Connect the missing links and install water fountains that will make the trails convenient to athletes and families. As a board member of the Pittsburgh Marathon, I'm ecstatic to be able to welcome so many runners and visitors back to our region, but I assure you, any runner would tell you the same.
For the airport, streamline the arduous baggage check-in process! Our counterparts in Philadelphia are pursuing stimulus funding for a state-of-the-art baggage transport system that would allow for security screening at check-in. Airport travel will never be as user-friendly as it once was because of necessary security measures, but we need to take whatever steps possible to reduce complications for visitors.
The opportunities provided by the stimulus funding cannot be allowed to fall short of their potential. Pittsburgh must take a few more steps to be seen as a world-class region, and the time to take them is now.
STATE REP. CHELSA WAGNER
The writer is a Democrat representing the 22nd Legislative District.