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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

America's most livable city is once again rated.....most polluted?

Well, 2nd worst for particulate pollution, or soot. I've posted a few times that the Pittsburgh region has poor air quality. While our leaders continue to beat their chests over meaningful rankings such as "Most Livable City", other rankings such as our annual placement in the worst pollution rankings and statistics such as our poor job and population growth seem to refute that this city is in fact on the right track.

Don't get me wrong, I love Pittsburgh, but we need to get our priorities straight if we ever want to be a place that attracts and retracts young people. Redundant commissions are not enough. The new hockey arena won't do it. Casino? Come on. I've said it once I'll say it again. Pittsburgh has to create jobs if it wants young people to stay here and young people to migrate here. One way to create jobs - BE DIFFERENT!

Pittsburgh needs to strive to be unique in its regional economic policies. Clever marketing campaigns won't do it. Why not become a leading edge city for green tech and environmentally sensible regulations? Pittsburgh should build on its success with green building and become the Green city. Why not turn this city into one that replaces cars with light rails, congestion priced roads (want to drive from Monroeville to downtown? Pay up!), NON-SOOT emitting trucks and city where riding your bike to work is not only preferred but safe!

In order to do most of those things hundreds of millions must be spent on infrastructure such as light rails, new roads, personnel, etc but unfortunately there is going to be roughly $1 billion tied up in construction of a light rail tunnel from downtown to the North Shore. People think that much money to extend the 'T' 1.2 miles is ridiculous, it may be, but hopefully it is the start of something big. That rail may eventually extend further north of the city where congestion is getting worse and worse as more people move to the northern suburbs. Not all boondoggles have to be bad.

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