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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Bullets

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pittsburgh's North Shore Connector not among the projects receiving the latest Federal Stimulus grants

Hopefully this is the last time I have to bash the North Shore Connector, or the "Bore to the Shore", as the Port Authority refers to it as. Anyone familiar with the Port Authority's North Shore Connector project shouldn't be shocked that it wasn't among the recipients of the latest round of $742 million in Federal Stimulus grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The NSC needs roughly an additional $60 million to complete what was supposed to be a $430 million project, bringing the total cost to around $550 million. The project, once completed, will extend our light rail from downtown and under the Allegheny River to the city's North Shore. The new extension will not touch any residential neighborhoods and will most likely be used primarily to transport people going to Steelers and Pirates games, and eventually the new Casino, from downtown and the South Hills.

The project, in the minds of most people with at least half a brain (Former Mayor Tom Murphy still thinks it was a good idea), is not only a misuse of taxpayer dollars - it is a poster child of boondoggle projects that are thought up by politicians, special interests groups, and businesses (like the Pittsburgh Steelers) that do not add value to the greater public. The real need here in Pittsburgh, for years, has been the Oakland to Downtown light rail link. That project would have not only increased ridership, reduced congestion, and led to more economic development in the uptown area- it would have received a bigger part of the Federal Stimulus dollars that are currently being granted to light rail projects in Virginia (Dulles Airport link to DC Metro), Phoenix, and Denver, and even Utah. Yes, even Utah is building light rail that actually touches neighborhoods where people live.