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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pittsburgh's big dig begins: Video of the North Shore Connector "boring"

In what could become the biggest government boondoggle in our region's history, the Pittsburgh North Shore Connector will extend the Port Authority's Light Rail line less than one mile from downtown, under the Allegheny River, and to the city's North Shore. The North Shore is not a neighborhood - besides a section of apartments there really aren't many residents on the North Shore. The North Shore is a section of city that includes several businesses, restaurants, and, most importantly, the stadiums for the Pirates and Steelers and the soon to be built Majestic Star Casino.

As argued fervently by the blogs, media pundits, and local policy wonks, the half billion dollar extension, which could run up to around $1 billion, has very little benefit for to the region. Basically - the only use for the tunnel shuttle those who live either in downtown or south of the city to the stadiums for sporting events or to the casino where they can flush their hard earned money down the drain.

The argument that commuters will use the tunnel is without merit. I currently commute from the South Hills to my office on the North Shore and I am able to take the light rail (the "T") from a station that is one mile from my house to a station in downtown Pittsburgh that is a half mile from my office. I enjoy the brisk half mile walk each morning and afternoon and I'll probably boycott riding the "T" to the north shore since I like to get some exercise in before I sit down at a desk for most of the day.

Another argument - that the extension will serve as the first leg of a light rail line to the airport- is also bogus. The light rail line would have to go either over or under the Ohio River if it were to go out to Pittsburgh International Airport. Does that mean they dig another tunnel or would they build an addition to an existing bridge, like they should have done for this project?

Below is a clip of the "boring" process that started recently. I can't wait until the day they finally extend the light rail to the eastern part of town - so I no longer have to drive into that part of the city.

Video of the boring "boring" process

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