Mon-Fayette Expressway might never run to Pittsburgh

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erok
Keymaster
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jonawebb
Participant
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I think that means it’s over. Hard to come back after that.


Eric
Member
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I’m Jewish, but praise Jesus.

What is the role of the planning commission in all of this and other projects, by the way?   Do they act as a gate keeper (ie, if they don’t include a project on a list it can’t be funded?)


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I said this to the Southwest PA Commission today.

blog post


Ahlir
Participant
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On a related note, the State Transportation Committee is holding an Open Meeting tomorrow evening at 6:30pm. It appears to be an on-line meeting, and you have to register. Details at the link.

Join us at the public meeting where PennDOT Secretary and STC Chair, Leslie S. Richards will discuss the 2017 Transportation Performance Report and answer your questions live. The meeting is part of Pennsylvania’s Twelve Year Transportation Program update process.

We need your help to tell us your transportation needs.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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“Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission members will wait before deciding whether to include the Mon-Fayette Expressway completion in their long range plan. …

Commissioners from the 10-county planning agency joined several public commentors Monday in questioning the value of the dated plan. Chief among concerns voiced was whether the extension would help or hurt development in the economically depressed Mon Valley; whether the turnpike can guarantee funding for the 20-year project; and whether past turnpike construction projects in the region delivered on projections about economic growth and development.”

Mon-Fayette Expressway decision delayed. Monday, March 20, 2017

http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/12086260-74/mon-fayette-expressway-decision-delayed


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Maybe Stu was one of those the reporter referred to when he said “several public commentors Monday [questioned] the value of the dated plan”. Go, Stu!

I agree: MFE must die.


Eric
Member
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Now that Logan doesn’t run the PA turnpike commission anymore (he’s the leader of visit Monroeville), maybe the turnpike will let this die. Mr. Logan seems to have had multiple competing  reasons to get this built.


erok
Keymaster
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well, residents and politicians in the Mon valley will surely fight to keep this project going. if anything, it’s good leverage to get investment in their communities if the region does kill it.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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The borough of Turtle Creek is almost in the Mon Valley, and it’s not fighting to keep the MFE. As quoted in City Paper: For Turtle Creek Mayor Kelley Kelley, this lengthy build-time will only perpetuate the decades-long promise to Mon-Valley residents. Although her town’s government has not officially come out against the project, Kelley is opposed because the road will cut through Turtle Creek’s business district; it would displace some long-time residents, and she fears the area will become a bypassed borough. 

“We will simply be the town that everyone drives over,” wrote Kelley in an email to CP. “I personally feel that the threat of the expressway being built (going on 30 some years now) has actually discouraged people from moving businesses into our area, or redeveloping other parts. Why come into a town and buy or rent space that is scheduled to be demolished and not replaced?” http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/despite-changing-infrastructure-needs-in-the-mon-valley-the-mon-fayette-expressway-refuses-to-die/Content?oid=2254490


Eric
Member
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The trib comments section isn’t a good guide for anything, but it seems that most of the complaining was from places like Jefferson Hills and other communities that need to use route 88 and 51.  It can take a long time to get into the city from there.

And that isn’t about economic development.  There’s plenty out there.  It’s more about getting into town faster


jonawebb
Participant
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I don’t think Turtle Creek is a good example of the kind of town that wants this. If you drive down the Mon Valley, not taking the Turnpike, it takes forever. The Turnpike makes a big difference. And it makes logical sense to connect it to the Parkway. (Not that I think this development is a good idea overall—$2B to get from Monroeville to the Mon Valley,)


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I pointed out on someone’s post that the South Busway is the only such Port Authority dedicated radial that doesn’t have a humungo park & ride at its terminus. Wilkinsburg has 700 spaces. Ross has 550. Carnegie has I think 450, plus the outer one by the old airport terminal. South has nothing. Everyone has to drive. Again, anything but the car. What other choice do they have? Scatterized transit routes, long headways, every trip of which still has to fight all the traffic approaching the 51/88 fustercluck. Someone please buy out one of the car dealerships, knock down any buildings, and put in a 1,000-space lot, so PAT can run a South Busway All-Stops. One more bit of low-hanging fruit that will not cost two-with-nine-zeroes-after-it.


Steven
Participant
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You could argue that the South Busway already effectively has a park & ride lot, just farther out, at Large (though of course the buses have to deal with traffic until they reach the busway). And the South Busway parallels the Blue Line, which has various park & ride lots itself (all farther out than the terminus of the South Busway). So I’d disagree that everyone has to drive; it seems people commuting from south of the city already have plenty of options, unless they’re starting from much closer to the city than any of the existing park & ride lots.

It looks like the closest existing park & ride to the South Busway’s terminus is Memorial Hall, 1.6 miles down Library Road. Would a park & ride that’s 1.6 miles closer (to somebody) get significantly more use? (Of course, that park & ride might be at capacity every day.)

How far do most park & ride users drive to get to the lot? Are they mostly local to that lot, or following a 30 minute drive with a transit trip?

If they’re local, it might be a better use of resources to add local bus routes, so they can skip the drive entirely. If they’re coming from far away, park & ride lots out at the end of the T lines seem like a better use of resources than buying expensive land at the South Busway’s terminus and using it for parking (especially since it’ll just get more cars heading to the 51/88 intersection).


chrishent
Member
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The Y1 serves two park and rides, at the Century III mall (168 spaces) and Large (440 spaces, and conveniently located at the northern end of the Mon-Fayette!), and both have “spaces available throughout the day”, per the PAT interactive map:

https://paac.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=21b561fba9284378be9f1c620f2dd48e (super handy, btw!)

Per the Y1 schedule, it takes 54 mins to get to 6th Ave and Smithfield from Large, and 43 mins from the mall. How does this compare to driving in? Door-to-desk travel time, as @stu  refers to it, is over an hour in both cases. You have to figure out how to make that more appealing to potential bus riders (even though they likely spend over an hour driving in anyway). The elimination of transit zones might help attract new riders, as these lots used to be in Zone 2.

But even with financial incentives, some people are just not interested in mass transit. Hell, my employer offers either a free PAT monthly pass or paying 2/3 of parking lease in our building (employees end up paying a little over $100 per month in parking). Most choose the latter, even though it costs them $1200 per year in parking expenses, plus gas. It’s sad.

 


Mikhail
Member
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http://www.portauthority.org/paac/RiderServices/ParkandRideLots.aspx shows in red those parking lots that are filled up quickly during weekdays.


jonawebb
Participant
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It’s just very hard providing good mass transit service to people spread out over a large area. Drivers in the South Hills are making a reasonable trade-off. It’s not a moral failing. They can drive to the mall, wait, then get on the bus and make the rest of the ride no faster and on a schedule that may or may not match their needs, or they can simply drive the whole way in and pay for parking. If they drive in they don’t have to wait in the cold, have more privacy, can park closer to work, and have the car if they want to run an errand or go out to dinner after work.
The only real way to offer these people a better option is to make mass transit faster than driving, and that requires dedicated infrastructure — special lanes or rail. Which would be great, and could justify the cost over time; but it requires a large payment up front.


Eric
Member
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Trib article says that the $$$ for the MFE can only go to other turnpike projects, if I’m reading it right. Also in the same article someone (from the turnpike?) basically says that if they don’t want it then they’ll take the money elsewhere. Which makes me wonder more of this was a Sean Logan pet project as to why it was raised from the dead.


Eric
Member
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My other question got answered in the trib article too. The planning commission needs to add a project like this to their list first in order for the federal government to proceed with an environmental impact statement. Without this impact statement the PTC can’t go forward with construction.

http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/12105295-74/turnpike-commission-halts-work-on-mon-fayette-expressway


Ahlir
Participant
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$2B is a lot of money. Maybe this is a semantic problem. Is it not a turnpike project when some people necessarily have to use a turnpike to reach the amenity? Such as a parking ramp at the the terminus of a light-rail line? Which is needed so that drivers can get to their ultimate destination? It’s all turnpike, right?

On a tangential note, on one trip to DC I decided to get off at Rockville and take the Metro into town. I figured it would beat having to pay the extortionate in-town parking rates. So I did it. It wasn’t too bad. But it definitely felt like it took longer; the train kept stopping at all these stations… though I don’t know for a fact that it took longer. The subjective experience, as a driver, of being in motion and somehow being in control is quite compelling, even when I know objectively that humans are exquisitely tuned to time and effort trade-offs. So transit is a hard sell. (But there’s solutions, like express trains.)

That said, the parking ramp at the Rockville station was way larger than anything we have around here. And it seemed to be pretty filled up. I know, they have more people out there. But this money’s on the table. Why not we get something useful from it? Do we really need yet another four-lane highway between anonymous specks in the middle of the state?


Bree33
Member
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I live near century III/large. I bike to work mostly but when I don’t bike, taking the transit options just doesn’t occur to me. I actually didn’t know there was any sort of park and ride near Century III (approx 5 min drive) and the Large lot is probably about 10 min away. If I leave my house early, it only takes me about 30-45 min to get downtown. The drive home takes longer but for the most part, traffic isn’t that horrible. I pay $5 to park. So yeah there just is not an incentive to take a bus.  I would love to take the T but the Library stop (closest to me) is way too far away. IMO the option has to be a system like the T or dedicated busways with stops within 5-10 minutes from homes to ensure that transit is faster and comparable in cost.


Eric
Member
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@ahlir, the turnpike commission was talking about using the money for “turnpike interchanges” and the northeast extension.  So their definition of a turnpike project is pretty much something directly related to a road they can toll.


chrishent
Member
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@bree33, also, the T from Library ain’t exactly fast. It’s still 45-50 mins to get to downtown. The advantages you’d get from using it are a more comfortable ride than the bus and, in theory, a more reliable timetable because it travels on a dedicated right of way most of the time, with the exception being the mixed traffic found between South Hills Junction and Station Square. Then, of course, when one T car breaks down, delays stack up quite quickly.

To me, my personal advantage of taking transit here in Pittsburgh lies more with cost savings and what I do with my time during my commute. My door-to-door commute takes about 10 mins longer than driving, but on the bus I can work, text, read, call people, and if I had the capacity to do it, nap; all while not having to worry about what’s happening on the road, and the frustrations that come with that. Driving to work, to me, is essentially time I’m not getting back. I realize that a good chunk of people don’t see things that way, so the primary incentive then becomes cost savings. And even then, as I mentioned in my previous post, people would rather drive to work and pay for parking than ride public transit for free.

Riding to work, though, is awesome :-)


Benzo
Participant
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I bet if there were more effort put in to making the busyway and T stations accessible to pedestrians and bikes via more paths, sidewalk connections, and development of bike infrastructure (and bike parking corrals  and rent-able secure bike parking) near the busway and T stations there could be more of an incentive to use them for multi-modal commuters.

Nobody wants to walk along the shoulder of a busy road to get to the bus, they want a sidewalk, just like cyclists want bike lanes. They want to be separate and safe and they want the infrastructure to take them where they want to go. Look at the sidewalk situation around the Libary and West Libary T stations. It’s abysmal.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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When autonomous cars become common, commuting by car will feel a lot like public transit: step in, sit down, relax, and let somebody else do the driving.


Eric
Member
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Id also add  to @benzo‘s comment that even when there is a sidewalk, walking along a super busy roadway isn’t very pleasurable.  Streetscaping helps a lot too.  (i.e., trees, non-highway street lights, etc.).

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by  Eric.

StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Without reading the last seven or eight posts, what I mean about a P&R is condemning the entirety of all (tax-paying, private) property along Transport St to the first residence south of Tariff St, making it a (non-tax-revenue-generating, publicly owned) parking lot for as many cars as will fit, hopefully 750+, and running a bus like the O1, P1 or G2 to just there.

Not that I want to do this, just illustrating what makes the Wilkinsburg, Ross, and Carnegie P&Rs so desirable. Drive, park, walk to a bus that is on the busway/HOV in seconds.

The problem with that entire part of town is, there is no massive level spot to put a P&R north of Century III Mall, which is too far south to be useful. You’re either at the edge of a stream or on the side of a huge hill.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Also (having now read those posts), P&Rs have to be intuitive. There once was a P&R in Monroeville on Northern Pike by VFD #4, and a bus called the NP Northern Pike Flyer. To go to town, you got on the bus going eastbound on Northern Pike. The route looped around to get on the Parkway from 22, avoiding the usual backup at Rt 48. But it wasn’t intuitive. People thought it was slower, even though with two very long lights on 48, it likely saved 10 minutes just getting to the Parkway, so the route never did get much use.

This same issue feeds into another suggestion above, to run more route coverage in the outer burbs. Problem is, it is not cost-effective.

I will not launch into my rant about needing to bulldoze the suburbs.


erok
Keymaster
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Eric
Member
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Erok’s link really has a lot of information about repurposing MFE money (or, more accurately, the politics about not being able to)


fultonco
Member
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@bree33

Your observations are exactly why the Penn Futures Plan of 8/27/02 needs to be dusted off and put back on the table.  I believe I posted it somewhere in this thread, perhaps a few years back.


jonawebb
Participant
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There’s a story in the post-Gazette, which I can’t find online, that says that Fitzgerald is withdrawing his opposition and wants the board to approve the extension to Monroeville.


Eric
Member
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Ugh.  That sucks. Really sucks.

Slightly unrelated…

I’m reading a novel by a Pittsburgh novelist and part of the plot involves the? building of the MFE.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Doorposts-Your-House-Gates-Novel/dp/1631491741

 

 


Benzo
Participant
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Drove the existing mon fayette expressway a few weeks ago, it’s the most annoying road ever if you don’t have ez-pass, as there are several unmanned mandatory tollbooths along the way that require varying amounts of small cash. Better have $5 in small bills and change if you want to drive it.


Eric
Member
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PA has to get rid of the stop light red green signals at the ez pass booths along the turnpike to meet some Federal regs.

Eventually all these toll roads will end up like the 407 in Toronto. No stopping for tolls. Either you have a transponder and it gets charged or they mail you a bill and charge you a fee for not having a transponder.

 

https://www.nocashzone.com

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Eric.

Eric
Member
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Per the article in today’s post gazette, which I can’t link to because I’m out of free articles to read, Fitzgerald now supports it and intimates that a yes vote is forthcoming because the region would lose this  $2bn or so.

Which is a terrible way to make decisions.


jonawebb
Participant
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Here’s the latest story: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2017/04/17/Decision-expected-in-June-on-fate-of-Mon-Fayette-Expressway-s-last-leg/stories/201704170006

That 14-mile segment from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville, which has a revised completion estimate of $2 billion, was put on hold last month by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. The planning commission will decide in June whether the project continues or gets placed back on the shelf, where the former turnpike commission chairman predicted last year it would die.

Last week, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he would drop his opposition to the project since the money can’t be transferred to other regional transportation needs. But the final decision will be made by the 10-county regional planning commission, where officials from outside the Mon Valley have questioned the need for the highway.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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This news about Fitzgerald’s change of heart is bad for Wilkins Township, bad for Turtle Creek, bad for Duquesne, bad for the GAP trail (we’ll have an ugly loud freeway passing over the trail near the osprey nest), and bad for Allegheny County. I’m going to write to Fitzgerald and the SPC and voice my opinion!


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Composing my letter now, too.

It was good to get out there on Saturday and see for myself where this monstrosity would go.


Eric
Member
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Stu, if you do can you take pics and post them?  I’m not as familiar with the area as some others on the message board.

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