Free gardening seminar with Doug in Shaler Tuesday

Written by Doug Oster on .

I'll be presenting "Summer Garden Maintenance Tips" at the Shaler Library on Tuesday July 22, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. I'll be answering gardening questions and will have copies of all my books to sign.

This is the time of the season to look forward to the fall, planting things now will extend the harvest. I'll also have lots of plants to give away courtesy of Hahn Nursery. There's still lots of seeds which can still be planted too.

The event is sponsored by the Shaler Garden Club, I'm looking forward seeing every one and talking gardening.

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Reflections: Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership 'Project Pop Up: Fashion'

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .


In a couple months I'll have been in Pittsburgh for five years. As a fashion writer, during that time I've heard my fair share of snide remarks regarding the city's allegedly sour style sense.

While the Steel City is no Big Apple, its fashion community has been rebounding in recent years and is now home to fledgling designers, beauty brands, fashion degree programs, a style week, a fashion week and the list goes on. Those who are involved in the evolving scene can vouch for its growth. Otherwise, many of these talents typically remain under the radar of most Pittsburghers.

On Friday in Market Square, a snapshot of Pittsburgh's fashion community was on display at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's "Project Pop Up: Fashion" event. From 11 a.m.-2 p.m. passersby could browse accessories from Serendipity, vividly colored legwear by Identity Crisis, fine clothing from Larrimor's, graphic tees by DeadBuryDead and women's wear from Boutique la Passerelle, among other vendors. Three fashion trucks were parked at the spot, too.

A steady flow of foot traffic kept many vendors busy for the majority of the event. "It's great to meet you," "Where are you located?," "Can I have your business card?" and "So many cute things!" were among the phrases that filled the air. The energy was upbeat and inviting.

One of the common criticisms of the local fashion community is that it tends to be disjointed. What one group might be working on over here tends to go unnoticed by another group doing something similar in another part of the city. The pop-up fashion marketplace gave these vendors and designers a common place to meet -- and the public a chance to meet them. 

It was a fashionable Friday, indeed -- and Pittsburgh's fashion community, and the community at large, could benefit from more of them.

Boutique 400

Accessories, wigs and more from New York New York Fashion.

Boutique2 400

A dress and scarves from Boutique la Passerelle. T-shirts by DeadBuryDead in the background.

BBoutique3 400

Legwear by Identity Crisis.

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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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