Rail to Oakland would be problematic

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Is Oakland ready for the continuous rumble of rail cars? Such a project's cost and logistics do not make it seem feasible. (Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette)

Those who think the Port Authority and Allegheny County should pursue a light-rail extension from Downtown to Oakland, rather than the Bus Rapid Transit project that is moving forward, might want to consider the following:

Light rail would cost five to 10 times as much as the proposed $200 million BRT line, depending on how much tunneling or bridge construction would be needed to connect to the existing line. Obtaining federal funding to advance BRT to construction will be tough enough, as competition for federal capital grants is fierce.

Operating such a system would be more expensive. The authority’s operating expense per passenger mile in 2012 was nearly 20 percent more for rail than buses. Port Authority is in good financial condition for the first time in many years but won’t stay that way if it chooses more expensive options for running the system.

Infrastructure for a rail line -- structures every few yards to hold up the wires, the wires themselves, signals, longer station platforms, power plants -- would be far more intrusive in the narrow Forbes-Fifth corridor than what will be needed for BRT. How would overhead structures every few yards look in the heart of Oakland?

Buses aren’t quiet but light-rail vehicles, despite the name, are heavy enough to shake the ground around them as they move. Is Oakland ready for the continuous rumble of rail cars?

Because rail cars are heavy and harder to stop, Port Authority slows them to 5 to 10 mph in areas where vehicle traffic and pedestrians commingle with or cross the rail line. Nearly all of the route to Oakland would be that type of environment. The only way to operate at higher speeds would be to fence in long sections of track, which would be impractical. Buses in reserved lanes would move faster.

Some of the above-mentioned problems with rail could be avoided by building underground. Bear in mind that the North Shore Connector cost nearly $550 million and extended the system just over a mile. The line to Oakland would need to be at least three times as long through a heavily built up and populated area. Construction would be a 3- to 5-year nightmare for people and businesses.

A BRT system can be developed in phases over time as funding becomes available. That’s a key factor because it may be difficult to line up all of the construction funding at the outset.


Port Authority has added three more routes to its developing real-time bus tracking system, bringing the total to eight. Riders of 41 Bower Hill, 56 Lincoln Place and 88 Penn are now able to find out the exact location of buses on those routes using a smartphone, tablet or PC. The system can be accessed at


menatworkThe painting project that has brought an around-the-clock closure to the outbound Liberty Tunnel will spread to the inbound side starting tonight. The inbound tunnel will close at 8 p.m. today through Friday, reopening by 6 a.m. each day. Traffic will be detoured via Route 51 to the Parkway West interchange. The outbound tunnel remains closed, with reopening scheduled for 6 a.m. next Monday. A 16-day around-the-clock closure of the inbound tunnel will occur next month, on dates yet to be determined.

A long-term around-the-clock closure of West Hardies Road in Hampton is scheduled to begin tonight. The road will close at 8 p.m. between Route 8 and Pioneer Road, with traffic detoured via Wildwood Road. The closure is expected to continue into late August.

Indiana Road in Penn Hills will close today through Wednesday for repaving, weather permitting. The closures will occur from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Local traffic only will be permitted on the road, with others detoured via Hulton Road. The work had been scheduled for last week but was postponed.

An $8 million resurfacing project is scheduled to begin today on Route 19 in Ross and McCandless. The work will cause single-lane traffic starting at 7 p.m. weekdays between Sewickley Oakmont Road in Ross and Longvue Avenue in McCandless through early November. The restriction will be lifted by 6 a.m. daily. A schedule of weekend work will be announced in August. The project will extend into next spring.

Inspection of the Boston Bridge, which carries Route 48 over the Youghiogheny River in Versailles and Elizabeth Township, will cause alternating one-way traffic starting today. The work will be done from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through Aug. 1.

Filming of the boxing movie “Southpaw” may cause detours today along Brownsville Road in Carrick and Brentwood. The detours are possible from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Brownsville Road intersections with Route 51, Towne Square Way and Biscayne Drive, according to the Pittsburgh Film Office.

Lane closures and two traffic stoppages of up to 15 minutes are scheduled on the Parkway East tonight as PennDOT installs traffic counters. The work will occur between Forest Hills and the Squirrel Hill Tunnels from 10 tonight until 5 a.m. Tuesday.

A $1.65 million improvement project at Route 8 and Ewalt Road in Richland, intended to improve safety and mobility at the intersections with Ewalt Road and Cook Road by adding left hand turn lanes, widening Route 8 and installing concrete barrier, has begun. Northbound Route 8 is reduced to a single 12-foot-wide lane between Krebs and Applewood drives. Southbound Route 8 will remain two lanes. Left turns to Ewalt Road from northbound Route 8 are prohibited.

Rock removal will cause a lane closure on inbound Route 28 near the Route 910 interchange in Harmar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through Aug. 8.

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Pension Magic

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Tom Corbett is trying his hand at a little pension reform magic. He is hoping a little slight of hand will help him in the election. Last I checked, Corbett is no David Copperfield. 

072114 Pension Magic

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Notes from day one of ACC Football Kickoff

Written by Sam Werner on .

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Day one of the 2014 ACC Football Kickoff is almost in the books. Make sure to pick up tomorrow's P-G (or read online) for full coverage, but here are a few notes to wrap up the day.

- Like most players have been this offseason, Pitt safety Ray Vinopal was very complimentary of the Panthers' new strength and conditioning program. He even brought it up unprompted several times as a reason for potential improvement in 2014. The biggest difference, he noted was an emphasis on players doing things when they're tired, or pushing them past their limits to simulate the experience of being in the fourth quarter of a football game. Pitt lost some close games late last year, and Vinopal was optimistic that wouldn't repeat itself in 2014.
"It's night and day with [strength and conditioning] coach [Ross] Kolodziej," Vinopal said. Now the focus is more on team and competition who's going to push themselves past the level of comfort."

- Wide receiver Tyler Boyd didn't say there's one game he's most looking forward to this season, but noted that he wanted to get revenge on Virginia Tech, who Pitt lost to 19-9 in Blacksburg last year. The Panthers made a late push, but were ultimately done in by eight sacks allowed.
"I know we were capable of going toe-to-toe [with them], we had our chances," Boyd said. "I can’t really explain the line situation, but I felt like we were the better team."
The Hokies come to Pittsburgh for a Thursday night game Oct. 16.

- Boyd also said he's getting more used to throwing with Chad Voytik over the offseason. While Tom Savage passes usually came to Boyd last year with rocket-like speed, he said it has taken some adjusting to get used to Voytik's delivery.
"It’s a little bit slower than with Tom," Boyd said. "Just getting used to that, it’s starting to feel the same now like i’m getting used to it."

- Vinopal said replacing Ejuan Price's potential contributions on defense will require a team effort. Price was lost for the season last week when he needed chest muscle surgery. Vinopal noted freshmen Rori Blair and Hez Trahan as guys who could potentially play a role at defensive end. The silver lining, though, is that defensive end is a spot where a freshman can more easily step in and play right away, especially in pass-rushing scenarios.

- Vinopal was very bullish about the Panthers' linebacking corps, which returns two starters in Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez, and Matt Galambos, who played in several key spots for Pitt last year.
"To have those guys in front of you as a safety, with experience, is huge," Vinopal said. "You're the last line of defense. It’s hard to make a tackle when you start 12 yards deep and no one touches [the offensive player] until he gets there. You could say this or that, but the odds are in the offense's favor when the ball goes untouched to the secondary."

- ACC commissioner John Swofford noted at his opening forum that the NCAA's limit of 20 hours for team-organized activities is "being abused" and was hopeful the push for autonomy could help resolve that.
Vinopal said he regularly spends more than 20 hours a week on football, but most of that comes on his own time in the film room or studying the playbook.
"I don’t feel like 20 hours a week is enough for me personally to have the level of preparedness I would like going into the game," he said.

- North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams said Florida State's national title has had residual effects on the confidence throughout the ACC.
"Anybody could shock the ACC Championship this year, and that’s what impresses me," Williams said. "Literally everybody’s going to come to compete this year. Everybody feels like they have a lot of energy and a lot of confidence since Florida State won the national championship. That builds the other conferences teams’ hype and get more swag, more live in they hood to go compete this year."

- If there's any consensus about the Coastal Division, it's that there's no consensus. The preseason media poll will be released tomorrow, and no team (except maybe Virginia) would really be a huge surprise atop the rankings.
"Everyone in our division is beatable and everyone in our division can beat us," said Duke linebacker Kelby Brown. "If we don’t look at it that way then we’re going to get beat. It’s one game at a time. I know that we can beat everyone in the division, but they all probably feel the same way about us."

- Despite the apparent unevenness between divisions, with Florida State, Clemson and Louisville all in the same division, Swofford said there isn't much talk about realignment. He pointed to the SEC, which saw a period of East Division dominance earlier in the decade with Florida, Tennessee and Georgia, that has now shifted West with Alabama and Auburn as the two favorites.
"Competitive balance is extraordinarily good, in spite of what people see on paper," Swofford said. "If you look at our divisions playing each other, it’s not exactly 50/50 but it’s really close. You can’t really change divisions every time you feel like for a three-year period or a five-year period one division happens to be stronger than the other."

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McNeill: 'I really want to make a statement' - 07-20-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


For better or worse, the Penguins' deep pool of defensive prospects get a lot of attention. And with good reason.

Olli Maatta was a first-round pick who was a revelation in his first season in the NHL as a 19-year-old.

Philip Samuelsson was a second rounder pick who is the son of former Penguins star Ulf Samuelsson.

Derrick Pouliot was a first-round pick who has been an all-star in the Western Hockey League.

Brian Dumoulin was part of the Jordan Staal trade.

Scott Harrington has been captain of the London Knights, one of the best juniors teams in all of Canada.

Reid McNeil? As significant as his team-leading 90 penalty minutes with the 2012-13 Wheeling Nailers may have been to some, it's safe to say he doesn't garner nearly as much attention as the Penguins' other prospects on the blue line.

He'd like to change that. A sixth-round pick in 2010, McNeill completed his second professional season in 2013-14. Never to be confused with an puck-moving defenseman, McNeill (6-foot-4, 204 pounds) was credited with 11 fighting majors last season. In his previous seven seasons at the ECHL and OHL levels, he only had seven combined fighting majors.

McNeill attended the Penguins' prospect camp last week and talked about his development and what he's doing to get noticed:

How do you assess your second professional season?

"It was a great year. I learned a lot. Spent the full season in Wilkes-Barre so I got a great opportunity to work with [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach] Alain Nasreddine and [head coach John] Hynes down there. They did a great job of building confidence in my own play. I think that was the biggest part of my year, finding the role that I can play in this organization. Building the confidence in my own game. I felt like I showed that this [past] year. I’m just looking to bring that to [training] camp and building on that for September."

How important was it to spent the full season at the AHL level? You bounced between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Wheeling the prior season.

"Even the year before, down in Wheeling, I got the opportunity to play. That played a big role in my success last year was just having some confidence going in and kind of finding my role and finding out where I played on the team there. The coaches there where great in just kind of building up my confidence."

You're 6-foot-4. Is having a long reach to breaking up passes or shots part of your skill set?

"Yeah. A good stick. That’s some thing that they’ve tried to get into my game. You’ve always got to have a good stick but at the same time, I want to have a physical presence as well."

You played with Simon Despres as a defensive partner during the playoffs. What was that like?

"When he came down [to the AHL], we were partners in the playoffs. It was awesome. It was a lot of fun. He’s a real easy guy to play with. He’s always open. He talks a lot. My style of play, I keep it really simple and he’s more of an offensive kind of guy. I did my part in the [defensive] zone and I tried to get him the puck and he would make the play. I felt like we played really well together. We had a couple of really good series against Binghamton and Providence together. It was a real pleasure playing with him."

You had 119 penalty minutes last season, third-most on the team. Did you anticipate spending so much time in he penalty box?

"I knew I wanted to come in and have more of a physical presence [as a] bigger guy on the team. If you look at the depth chart on the back-end of the roster, there aren’t too many guys who have that physical style. I definitely wanted to work on that last year, drop the gloves a couple of more times. I didn’t go looking for it but at the same time I wanted to be ready for it. “PL3” [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward/enforcer Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond] was a big part of that. He helped me work on that after practice. That was something I tried to build in my game last year."

You say you weren't seeking out fights. Was it more a matter of you being a bigger guy and fights "finding" you?

"Yeah, exactly. I didn’t got running. I don’t think I chased any fights all year. It was more standing up for guys or if the team needed something, it was more of something to spark the team or stand up for somebody. It’s not really my style to go chasing fights. I want to be on the ice but at the same time, if I need to step in, that’s something I want to do."

A lot of defensive prospects on this team get a lot of attention for being drafted high or having offensive skill. You don't get a lot of that attention.

"Yeah, exactly. You look at the depth chart and there’s a lot of first round offensive defensemen. I definitely have a physical presence and being able to add that different element is something I can set myself apart from the offensive and skilled guys. That’s something I’m working on and I’m going to continue to work on it this year."

Do you need to embrace a role as a shutdown defender?

"Yeah, absolutely. I know I’m not an offensive guy. I’m a bigger body. That’s something that I take pride in. That sets me a part from all the other guys. Being a bigger, physical guy, that’s something the organization can look at. It just sets me a part from everybody."

You train with former Penguins left winger Gary Roberts. He was a folk hero for his toughness as an NHLer. Can it be intimidating being around him?

"Oh no. He’s awesome. He’s a great guy. Last year, I was actually in his gym in Toronto. This year, I’m not actually in his gym but I’m doing his program but I’m kind of going back and forth from my hometown to Toronto every couple of weeks. I still get to see him and he’s still a great guy. He pushes you a lot. I’ve learned a lot from him. Just how he carries himself in the gym, how he talks to guys, how hard he works. It’s something to really look at and see how well he did in his career. It wasn’t a fluke. He worked for it and he had a pretty successful career."

What's next for you becoming an NHLer?

"I’m just going to keep working. Keep developing my game. That’s the goal this year. I really want to make a statement come September and turn some heads. I feel this development camp is a good first step. I going to continue to work out and get bigger and stronger."

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RIP James Garner and thanks for the TV and movie memories

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


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James Garner was nominated just once for an Academy Award, for 1985’s “Murphy’s Romance.” Many columnists called his nomination, as Sally Field’s romantic interest in the May-December love story, the biggest surprise of that awards season. 
As the book “Inside Oscar” recounts, one writer for the Los Angeles Times wrote that Garner “would win if it were a popularity contest.” nbcJames-Garner-obit-jpgblogbv - Copy
But he lost the Oscar for actor in a leading role to William Hurt from “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in what was an incredibly competitive year. That race also included Harrison Ford from “Witness,” Jack Nicholson from “Prizzi’s Honor” and Jon Voight, “Runaway Train.”
Academy Award or not, Garner was admired, respected and loved by audiences who knew his work from television (“The Rockford Files” and “Maverick”) along with movies such as his reported favorite, “The Americanization of Emily.” He also was honored with Emmys, Golden Globes and a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. 
After learning that he died Saturday night at his home in Brentwood, Calif., it seemed time to recall something he said in 1994. 
He was 66 and having a very good year. 
Garner was up for an Emmy for the TV movie “Breathing Lessons.” That summer he,  Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster had starred in a big-screen version of “Maverick” and he had agreed to do six two-hour “Rockford” movies to air on CBS.  MCA/Universal also had just released a selection of old “Rockford” shows on videotape. 
Garner knew that women his age — heck, women two decades younger — were viewed differently in his business. 
“I think that’s awful when they say, ‘She’s 40, she’s over the hill,’ when, oh boy, their talent is really getting good then, and I think their beauty is, too. I remember seeing Lana Turner then, at 40, and gosh, what a knockout. I see some wonderful actresses today who are having trouble getting work because they’re 40 years old, and that’s not right,” Garner told critics that summer while promoting “Maverick.” 
If, on this anniversary of the moon landing, you want to remember Garner, you can track down “Space Cowboys” starring Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and Garner as retired U.S. Air Force test pilots who return to training years after demonstrating they had the right stuff. 
If it’s romance, you cannot go wrong with “The Notebook,” fearturing a pair of actors then in their 70s (Garner and Gena Rowlands),  a pair in their 20s (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams) and a love story that transcends time and, miraculously but only occasionally, memory loss. It was branded sappy in some circles when released in June 2004 but its heartfelt charms are impossible to resist. 
The big-screen version of “Maverick” featured Garner as an upright lawman named Zane Cooper who crosses paths with Gibson’s Maverick. As we said at the time, the new “Maverick” owes much to the old “Maverick,” but it’s also a horse of a different color. Far sillier, it ups the ante with slapstick, plain schtick, and a barrage of one-liners. In a word, this “Maverick” is goofy fun. 
Here is the press release SAG issued when it named Garner as recipient of its accolade, awarded on Feb. 5, 2005: 
(Los Angeles, California September 22, 2004) – Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced today that James Garner, one of film and television’s most distinguished actors, will receive the Guild’s most prestigious honor — the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment, presented annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession.” 
A former vice president and board member of Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Mr. Garner will be presented with the award at the “11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards” which will premiere live on Turner Network Television (TNT) on Saturday, February 5, 2005 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. Central and 6 p.m. MT.
A three-time Screen Actors Guild Award nominee, an Academy Award nominee and two-time Emmy Award recipient, Mr. Garner has long been regarded as one of America’s foremost actors, continually maintaining his popularity over time. 
In making today’s announcement, SAG President Melissa Gilbert said, “James Garner is more than just one of America’s finest actors. He is a man who has served his peers, his community and his country with integrity and quiet generosity. One of my favorite responsibilities as SAG president is calling each year’s Life Achievement Award recipient to tell them we are honoring them. This year was extra special for me because James Garner’s performances have made me laugh and cry for as long as I can remember. He epitomizes class, style, wit and depth. He serves as a role model for all of America’s actors. This award is most deserved.”
Easily transitioning between film and television, Garner has headlined many projects in both mediums during his prolific career, earning numerous honors and creating a host of memorable characters.
Audiences world-wide have been delighted over three decades by Garner’s portrayal of wry detective Jim Rockford, whom he introduced in the 1974-80 series “The Rockford Files” and brought to television again in seven top-rated movies beginning in 1994. The role earned Garner an Emmy Award in 1977 and two consecutive SAG Award nominations in 1995 and 1996.
Time has had no impact on Garner’s creative energy. He starred opposite Gena Rowlands in this summer’s critically acclaimed hit movie “The Notebook” and this fall returns to ABC’s “8 Simple Rules” as Katey Sagal’s father, having joined the cast following the untimely death of the series star John Ritter.
Other recent films include “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” (2003), “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001) and “Space Cowboys” (2000). Concurrently he starred in the CBS drama “First Monday” (2003), the Hallmark Channel miniseries Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” (2002) and the 2000 Showtime telefilm “The Last Debate.”  He also co-starred in the four final episodes of “Chicago Hope.” 
The CBS telefilm “One Special Night”, which set a 1999 ratings record, reunited Garner with Julie Andrews, his co-star in the feature films “Victor/Victoria” and his personal favorite, “The Americanization of Emily.” The same year, Garner’s performance in the TNT telefilm “Legalese” brought his third Actor nomination. 
Among his roles in 1997 were HBO’s “Dead Silence” and the miniseries Larry McMurtry’s “Streets of Laredo”, the follow-up to “Lonesome Dove.” In 1996, he starred with Jack Lemmon in the Warner Bros. film “My Fellow Americans.” In 1994 he brought one of his unforgettable television characters to the big screen, co-starring with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster in “Maverick.” 
Garner has been honored for outstanding performances throughout his career. An Oscar nominee for his title role in “Murphy’s Romance” (1985), he received Golden Globe Awards and Emmy nominations for the Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation “Decoration Day” (1990) and for playing business tycoon F. Ross Johnson in the miniseries “Barbarians at the Gate.”
Other accolades include both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his touching performance in 1993-94’s highest rated telefilm, the Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation “Breathing Lessons,” as well as for his roles in the Peabody Award-winning telefilms “Heartsounds” with Mary Tyler Moore (1984) and “Promise” with James Woods (1986). 
“Promise” won five Emmy Awards including one for Garner as executive producer.  In 1989, the Garner-Duchow-produced Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation “My Name is Bill W.,” also starring Woods, received seven Emmy nominations including nods to Garner for best supporting actor and executive producer. 
In total, Garner has received one Academy Award nomination, 15 Emmy nominations with two wins, 13 Golden Globe nominations with four wins, two People’s Choice Awards and three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. He also received a Clio Award for his Polaroid commercials.
Garner was born on April 7, 1928 in Norman, Oklahoma. His father, Weldon Bumgarner, was of European ancestry. His mother, Mildred, who was one-half Cherokee, died when Garner was five. He left home at 14, enlisted in the Merchant Marines at 16, and then followed his father to Los Angeles. After attending Hollywood High School he became Oklahoma’s first draftee of the Korean conflict. Injured twice, he was awarded a Purple Heart.
After the war, a small part in a Broadway production of “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial” led to a contract with Warner Bros. He made his television debut with Clint Walker on “Cheyenne” and his feature film debut in “Toward the Unknown.” 
A noted performance as Marlon Brando’s friend in “Sayonara” led to the leading role in the immensely popular western television series, “Maverick”. Since then, he has starred in roughly 40 films, including “The Children’s Hour”; “The Great Escape”; “Grand Prix”; “Move Over, Darling” and “Support Your Local Sheriff.” 
Garner joined the board of Screen Actors Guild in 1960 while starring in Maverick and was welcomed to his first board meeting by then Guild President Ronald Reagan. During three terms on the board, Garner served on the union’s television negotiating committee and was twice elected 2nd vice president.
Garner is involved with many humanitarian and civic causes. He helped organize Martin Luther King’s march on Washington for Civil Rights in 1963, and visited the troops in Vietnam in 1967. He is a member of the National Support Committee of the Native American Rights Fund and strongly supports the National Museum of the American Indian. He supports the Lupus Research Institute and Save the Children. He has been involved with the “Save the Coast” movement to stop offshore drilling in California.
In 1986, Garner was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He was made Ambassador of Cultural Arts for the State of Oklahoma in November of 1989. He was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in March 1990. 
In 1993, he received the Western Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film and Television from the Gene Autry Museum, and in 1995 he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the University of Oklahoma. 
A gifted and ardent golfer, he serves on the National Advisory Board of the United States High School Golf Association and in 1990 won the Most Valuable Amateur trophy at the AT&T Golf Tournament. Also an auto-racing enthusiast, he has driven the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions: 1975, 1977 and 1985.
Garner lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Lois. They have two daughters, Kim and Gigi.


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