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E. Liberty, Castle Shannon transit-oriented development ready to take off

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Port Authority officials said they are hoping for groundbreakings for two long-awaited major transit-oriented development projects this year.

Construction could start as soon as late summer on a $34 million transit center at the East Liberty station on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, and in November on the $36 million Shannon Transit Village in Castle Shannon, said Michael Cetra, assistant general manager of legal and corporate services.

A committee of the authority board viewed presentations on both projects on Wednesday.

The East Liberty project (below) would reconfigure the station and surrounding area to make it more pedestrian-friendly and provide better connections to nearby development, including three new residential-retail buildings planned by The Mosites Co. just north of the transit center. It would also have a two-level parking garage with 540 spaces.

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The Castle Shannon project calls for construction of an eight-story apartment building, with retail on the first level, above the existing park-n-ride lot at the Light Rail Transit station. It would be built on a deck above the lot, and plans call for a slight increase in the number of commuter parking spaces.

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Mr. Cetra said construction at East Liberty was expected to take three years; at Castle Shannon, two years.

On another major project, a proposed 320-unit apartment and clubhouse development next to the South Hills Village parking garage, the authority board is expected to vote Friday on a six-month extension of negotiations with the would-be developer, a joint venture of Massaro Properties and Dawson Co., through Sept. 30.

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Western Pennsylvania gas prices dropped more two cents to $3.763 per gallon this week, AAA reported. Don’t spend it all in one place.

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Normally, a report card with a “D+” grade doesn’t elicit much glee (except perhaps from a sibling). But the transportation community is singing the praises of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave that grade to America’s infrastructure in a comprehensive report this week.

A sampling of the reaction:

Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO):

“This Report Card accentuates the need for a long-term, sustainable funding source for surface transportation, moving forward. By connecting greater investment in transportation projects to measurable improvements in efficiency and connectivity, the report demonstrates why adequate infrastructure investment is key to our future economic prosperity.”

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of America:

“It’s time to stop duct-taping this problem. Chronic underinvestment created the current crisis and continued failure to adequately invest in our nation’s infrastructure needs only widens the gap and increases the final cost. We wouldn’t want our kids to come home with a D+ and it’s not acceptable for our country. It’s time for Congress to put the duct tape away and put America back to work building a safe, efficient and effective U.S. infrastructure system that will pay dividends to our national economy and the American workforce for decades to come.”

Lori Spragens, executive director of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials:

The state of Pennsylvania currently regulates 776 high-hazard potential dams (defined as dams whose failure would likely cause loss of life). “We know the D grade is a fair assessment of the status of the nation’s dam infrastructure, and we believe it represents an important wake-up call for state and federal officials, dam owners and people who live and work near dams. … By investing today, we will save lives and property tomorrow.”

Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America’s Future and outspoken proponent of increased spending on transportation, during and after his terms as governor of Pennsylvania:

“A Report Card grade of a D+ is not indicative of a first-class infrastructure. For years, we’ve known that our roads and bridges are deteriorating and not keeping up with demand, but this Report Card shows that America also has substantial deficiencies in our levees, wastewater systems, drinking water systems, aviation and more. For America to stay competitive in a global economy, we must significantly improve our energy, transportation and water systems.”

Michael Melaniphy, CEO of the American Public Transportation Association:

“I want to commend ASCE for highlighting the need for urgent investment in our nation’s public transportation infrastructure in their report. The report shows that there are devastating consequences to our economy and to our mobility when we do not make investing in America’s infrastructure a priority.”

Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

“Our infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of significant concern with strong risk of failure. … we continue to be clear that more investment is still needed. And not just by the federal government. All levels of government, in partnership with the private sector, need to marshal the capital to invest sooner rather than later and have realistic conversations about how to pay for investment.”

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roadworkahead 
Route 28 inbound will be restricted to single-lane traffic starting at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, continuing until 5 a.m. the following day, from the 40th Street Bridge to East Ohio Street.

Check earlier posts for other road work updates, including closures planned for the outbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel and Pennsylvania Turnpike this weekend.

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