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Pittsburgh business leaders pushing for more transportation funding

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

As the state House continues consideration of transportation funding legislation, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce are distributing these fliers in support of increased funding.

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Just to review, the Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation raising up to $2.5 billion in new revenue for roads, bridges, transit and other modes. Some House members are balking at the fee increases in the bill, including vehicle registrations, licenses and traffic fines. All hands agree that action must come before the Legislature recesses at the end of the month (or whenever it finishes work on the budget) or nothing will be done.

According to the chamber, conference and a host of others who have weighed in, we’ll all pay more if nothing is done. The Senate bill would eventually cost us about $3 per week.

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State Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, has introduced a bill to legalize pedal-assist electric bicycles. From his news release:

The electric bicycles are operated by pedals, primarily, but allow for an electric motor to assist the rider while going up hills, for example.

“This is really about making sure Pennsylvania laws are reflective of today’s world,” Smith said. “Electric bikes weren’t a consideration until recently and this legislation brings state law into the 21st century by supporting innovative technology and catalyzing economic development in our region.”

Senate Bill 997 clarifies state law by defining and regulating pedal-assist electric bicycles.

Catherine Tolliver, owner of Pedego Pittsburgh, points to her own experience as an example of how electric-assist bikes provide opportunities for riders and small businesses alike.  

“I didn’t want to give up biking as I got older and thought there must be something to help people like me who are facing mobility issues as we age,” said Tolliver. “I found what I was looking for in electric-assist bikes, which is why I purchased a Pedego and ultimately decided to open my shop.”

Smith’s legislation defines “pedacycles with electric assist” and specifically limits them to bicycles equipped with operable pedals, an electric motor 750 watts (1 horsepower) or less, weighing 100 pounds or less, and capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 mph. The legislation also requires the rider to be at least 16 years old.

The boards governing the Montour Trail and Great Allegheny Passage enacted policy changes two years ago to accommodate electric bikes.

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roadworkaheadMilling, resurfacing and other improvements will cause restrictions on Penn Circle in East Liberty starting tonight. Beginning at 8 p.m., traffic will be restricted to one lane from Manetta Way to Penn Avenue. Work will occur Mondays through Fridays, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., through late July.

Overnight restrictions continue through Sunday in the Route 28 work zone. Outbound stoppages of up to 15 minutes are possible starting at 8 p.m. daily and ending by 5 a.m. Inbound traffic will be restricted to a single lane approaching the 40th Street Bridge during the same hours. PennDOT strongly recommends that you consider an alternate route outbound while the work is underway.

Short-term lane closures are possible on Route 28 in East Deer, Fawn, Tarentum and Harrison as crews take core samples for a future project between Creighton (Exit 13) and the Butler County line. Northbound restrictions are possible from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., southbound from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through July 12.
 
Right-lane closures are likely on the Elizabeth Bridge until 3 p.m. today in both directions while steel is repaired. Also known as the Regis R. Malady Bridge, it carries Route 51 over the Mon in Elizabeth Township.

Poplar Street in Green Tree is closed to northbound traffic from Mansfield Avenue to Noblestown Road through July 3 for concrete patching. Traffic approaching from side streets will be required to turn south.

Crews have milled the pavement on a long stretch of Connor Road in Castle Shannon and Mt. Lebanon from Route 88 to Terrace Drive. Expect a bumpy ride there until the new pavement is down. Work there may cause restrictions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and overnight after 6 p.m. weekdays.

Lane closures are possible on McKean Street beneath the Liberty Bridge on the South Side from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Friday as crews remove loose and deteriorated concrete from the piers under the bridge. The structurally deficient bridge is at risk for a weight restriction if PennDOT doesn't get the estimated $40 million to $60 million it needs to do a major rehabilitation. It's one of 33 bridges identified by PennDOT as being at risk for weight limits that could keep trucks, buses and other big vehicles off them. If you missed it, you can read the story that appeared in Saturday's Post-Gazette right here.

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