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On transportation, candidate Wolf steers to low road

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

The transportation funding bill enacted by the Pennsylvania Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett last fall was a shining example of bipartisanship at a time of polarization and gridlock in our political system.

If he becomes governor, Tom Wolf is going to need bipartisanship if he wants to get anything done. But Mr. Wolf has elected to take a shot at Mr. Corbett’s support of the transportation bill in a TV commercial.

“Corbett raised your gas taxes through the roof,” Mr. Wolf says as a graphic appears saying “Gas prices going up 28 cents a gallon.”

Some context: By eliminating a loophole, the legislation caused the gas tax to rise by 9.5 cents on Jan. 1. It is projected to cause an overall increase of 28 cents over a five-year period. To say that “Corbett raised your gas taxes through the roof” is, at best, shading the truth. The governor signed a bill that had broad support among Democrats and Republicans, not to mention business, labor, environmental groups, transit and bike-pedestrian advocates and countless other civic organizations.

Implicit in Mr. Wolf’s criticism is that he doesn’t support the transportation bill, which could be construed to mean he thinks our roads and bridges were in dandy shape and that public transit systems should continue to slash service and raise fares to cope with their financial problems.

Mr. Corbett’s campaign has pointed out that the commercial came on the heels of this comment from Mr. Wolf during a public appearance: “I applaud the Legislature and the governor for actually coming through, coming up with a transportation plan that actually allows us to fix our bridges and actually move our transportation infrastructure forward.”

As the campaign continues, we’ll see if Mr. Wolf’s applause is the one-handed variety.

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menatworkNorth Pioneer Road will be closed at the intersection of West Hardies Road in Hampton from 8 p.m. today through 5 a.m. Monday for widening and resurfacing that is part of the Route 8-Hardies Road improvement project. The closure of West Hardies Road is projected to continue through Aug. 30.

Work on Elizabeth Mon City Road in Forward will cause intermittent closures between William Penn Road and Williamsport Road. The work will require the use of one lane of the road, with flaggers directing traffic through the open lane. Full closures of up to 15 minutes may be necessary. Work occurs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays through Aug. 22.

Move-in day for first-year students at Carnegie Mellon University will cause street closures in Oakland from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The closures: 5100 block of Margaret Morrison Street, between Forbes Avenue and Tech Street; 100 block of Tech Street, between Margaret Morrison Street and Schenley Drive; 1000 block of Morewood Avenue between Fifth and Forbes avenues. Fifth Avenue congestion is likely at the campus, and officials recommend avoiding it if possible.

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Relief in sight for bus riders; 2 more tunnel closures on horizon

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Breathing room on the bus?

Relief may be on the way for riders on several overcrowded Port Authority bus routes. As we reported in print today, schedule changes will take effect Aug. 31 on 22 routes, including added trips on 51 Carrick and the 61ABCD routes and extensions to the 75 Ellsworth and 93 Lawrenceville-Oakland routes. The story is here and more details can be found at www.portauthority.org.

 

Tunnel vision

The Mount Washington Transit Tunnel is scheduled to close from about 11 p.m. Friday until 11 a.m. Saturday for ventilation work, causing detours of bus and rail service. Rail service will use the old Allentown line and a shuttle will operate between Station Square and First Avenue. Inbound buses will go through Allentown and outbound service will use the Wabash Tunnel.

UPDATE: The transit tunnel will close again from the start of service on Sunday until 1 p.m., with the same detours in effect. The outbound Red Line will be detoured from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday during work south of South Hills Junction. Red Line vehicles will follow the Blue Line route from the junction to Willow, with bus shuttles operating along the closed portion of the Red Line. Delays are likely.

The final closure of the outbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel is likely to occur on the weekend of Aug. 22-25.

 

Road work updates

menatworkNight owls will find single-lane restrictions of the entire length of Interstate 376 in Allegheny County tonight through Aug. 22 as crews install pavement reflectors. The work will occur from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting on the Parkway East and moving to the Parkway West.

Continuing reconstruction will cause a closure of the intersection of Swallow Hill Road and Lindsay Road in Scott this weekend. It is scheduled to begin at about 6 p.m. Friday and continue until 6 a.m. Monday. Port Authority buses will not travel on Swallow Hill from Greentree Road to Lindsay during the closure.

Lane closures are possible from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday on the approaches to the lower deck of the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Inspectors will be looking things over.

The inbound Liberty Tunnel is scheduled to reopen at 6 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22. Having viewed the freshly painted white walls in the outbound tunnel, we’re thinking gray might have been a better choice.

Water line work will restrict traffic on Smithfield Street from First Avenue to Fort Pitt Boulevard in Downtown Pittsburgh from 7 tonight to about 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Removal of rocks and debris from a hillside will close the right lane on inbound Route 28 near the Route 910 interchange from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Friday.

Inspection of the outbound Fort Pitt Tunnel is scheduled to restrict traffic to a single lane from 10 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Wednesday, but PennDOT typically delays the start until PNC Park traffic subsides.

Milling and resurfacing has begun on East 10th Avenue in Tarentum and Brackenridge, causing alternating one-way traffic from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weeknights through mid-November. Some Saturday nights also will see work. The project extends from Lock Street in Tarentum to Horner Street in Brackenridge and is one of those that wouldn’t have happened without Act 89, the transportation funding measure that the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett approved last fall.

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How Pittsburgh's tree canopy affects neighborhood surface temperature

Written by Ethan Magoc on .


Tree coverage is sparse on parts of Pennsylvania Avenue in Central Northside and Manchester, which are among the city's hottest neighborhoods, according to a 2010 land surface thermal image. (Ethan Magoc/Post-Gazette)

Which are Pittsburgh's hottest, least tree-covered neighborhoods?

It's that time of summer in Pittsburgh when the sun and humidity make everything generally unpleasant by noon.

The hotter temperatures can be more pronounced in parts of the city where little shade coverage is available, but exactly how much of a difference does a tree canopy make?

Tree Pittsburgh, an environmental advocacy group, enlisted a University of Vermont researcher in 2010 to try to find the answer. Using a satellite, the researcher created a surface thermal image. The one-day snapshot is not a direct correlation to how many trees each neighborhood does or does not have, but it is illustrative of what Tree Pittsburgh calls "urban heat islands."

"It seems to be more correlated with where there are impervious surfaces," said Jen Kullgren, a community forester with Tree Pittsburgh. "Large scale rooftops, dark rooftops, things like that — things that would retain heat in that area."

Many of the North Side neighborhoods, such as Manchester, are among the city's hottest, as is South Side Flats.


A landsat thermal image from Sept. 2, 2010. Click for a larger version. (Courtesy of Tree Pittsburgh)

There has not been a similar image captured since 2010, but the City of Pittsburgh is updating a tree inventory and will finish by summer's end.

City forester Lisa Ceoffe is creating the inventory with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. It's the city's first effort since 2005 to discern a precise count of how many trees it owns in each neighborhood.

And Ceoffe said it's not just a couple of interns driving around, counting trees.

"You need to have a lot of knowledge," she said. "These are skilled arborists who have to be very familiar with tree species and how to look at a tree."

She said 22,000 city trees have been planted through TreeVitalize since the 2005 count. That 2005 inventory actually indicates Manchester and Central Northside have the one of the highest counts of city-owned trees per neighborhood acre.

(This obviously does not include trees your neighbors own.)

Neighborhood Tree count per acre Acres Tree count
Friendship 3.60 68.297 246
Manchester 3.40 179.566 610
Central Northside 3.36 166.475 559
Shadyside 2.70 592.104 1601
Allegheny West 2.52 90.841 229

More than one Pittsburgh neighborhood name contains a nod to trees or, more generally, green space: Greenfield, Oakland, Oakwood, Homewood and Shadyside (and as Brandon points out below, also Beechview, Bloomfield, Glen Hazel, Hazelwood, Fairywood, etc)Glen Hazel, Hazelwood, Fairywood, Beechview, Bloomfield.

Which neighborhood do you think is the city's warmest or least leafy? Let us know in the comments below.

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Kids meet Pittsburgh police, firefighters and medics in Downtown event

Written by Liz Navratil on .


Laila Tuffiash, 6, of Avalon, laughs as she tries to walk in fireman boots.(Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

Pittsburgh public safety departments today hosted a kick-off event to the National Night Out, which will happen from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 5. Children tried on mini-fire suits and looked at protective suits worn by members of the bomb squad. Some kids spoke to representatives from animal control. Medics and firefighters were also on hand.

Mayor Bill Peduto and public safety director Stephen Bucar both stopped by the event and spoke briefly before the crowd.

Zone 2 Commander Eric Holmes told attendees, "Safety is a partnership and having this event is also a partnership."

 


City of Pittsburgh Police Officer Ken Stevwing's hat falls over Caitlyn Dettling's face while she sits in a car during the Market Square event.(Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

 

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Mayor Bill Peduto meets with police to discuss search for new chief

Written by Robert Zullo on .

Mayor Bill Peduto said the first of two meetings with the police bureau's rank and file to solicit input on the search for a new chief was planned to last an hour.

Instead, it went for three.

"There was a lot of discussion," Mr. Peduto said. "I was surprised by some of the talk because it was very much in line with the comments we've been saying about what we're looking for in a police chief and also what the community's been saying as well."

Mr. Peduto's spokesman, Tim McNulty, said about two dozen officers attended.

Mr. Peduto and Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar have said they seek an even-handed disciplinarian with a background in big-city policing to replace former Chief Nate Harper, who began serving a federal prison sentence earlier this year related to a scheme that funneled department money into unauthorized accounts for his own personal use.

The new chief will take over a police bureau that is widely cited as suffering from low morale and one that struggles to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

"Officers want to see discipline but they want to see discipline done in a fair way, something that they feel hasn't been done in the past," Mr. Peduto said. "They want somebody who has experience, experience in dealing with a place like Pittsburgh, not somebody from a suburban area ... a city cop who has worked their way up who understands it and has an ability to communicate."

Mr. Peduto, elected last year, said he was told it was the first time in two decades that a mayor has sought input from the rank and file on the selection of a new chief.

"I can't answer for 20 years," he said. "I can answer for seven months. Sorry it took this long."

The next meeting with the officers will be Aug. 6, and the mayor said he expects a larger group of officers to attend.

The application period for police chief closes Thursday. Mr. Peduto said about 40 people have applied for the position.

Representatives for the Pittsburgh police union could not immediately be reached for comment.

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