Fri, 28 September 2007
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported today on the first mayoral debate of the campaign season last night, hosted by the Pittsburgh Design Coalition. Check out this quote from the article:
Boy, are we glad to hear it! Now let's hope the candidates can agree that finding workable alternatives for Pittsburgh and the Mon Valley should be among the priorities for our region's transportation planners.
We're working on helping communities in the
Wed, 26 September 2007
Supporters of the Mon-Fayette Toll Road, a proposed Turnpike expansion project in southwestern Pennsylvania, say the project is necessary to attract economic development and to retain young people in our region. But that underestimates the impact that the Mon-Fayette’s car and truck pollution would have on the area's residents, economy, and quality of living.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Andrea Boykowycz speaks with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and Michael Parker of Group Against Smog and Pollution. They elaborate on just how the Mon-Fayette would affect our health, and the health of our region’s economy-- and the outlook is bad on both counts.
Braddock is squarely in the path of the proposed Pittsburgh leg of the Mon-Fayette Toll Road. As Braddock Mayor John Fetterman testified last month before the State Transportation Commission, the proposed toll road is a menace to his community in more ways than one. The threat that the Turnpike would acquire right-of-way for this road has been an obstacle to economic and community re-development in Braddock for decades -- and the traffic that the road would deliver (if it's ever built) would blanket it in diesel fumes. Braddock already has some of the highest asthma rates of any municipality in our region. Plowing a highway right through the middle of town will only make Braddock's residents sicker.
It's not just Braddock's lungs that would suffer, either. Because Allegheny County is a non-attainment area for PM 2.5 pollution (meaning, the EPA has determined our air doesn't meet federal standards for soot pollution), any new fine particulate pollution source -- such as a new four-lane highway -- would make it that much harder for new businesses to locate here, or for existing businesses to expand. This is because we're prohibited by federal law from adding to our pollution problem; any new emissions sources would need to pay to mitigate the effects they'd have on our region's air quality.
Far from delivering economic opportunity to the Mon Valley, the Mon-Fayette would only create an additional obstacle to development. Building it would cost $3.6 billion -- but it would also cost us our health and a sizable chunk of our economic future.
We shouldn't have to shoulder any of those costs. Communities in the Mon Valley deserve much better.
For more information about the Mon-Fayette and what we can do to help Mon Valley communities move forward with achievable alternatives, visit PennFuture's Mon-Fayette campaign page. While you're there, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to our work. As always, we welcome your comments. Just email us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org, or click on "Comments" below.
Fri, 7 September 2007
The Mon-Fayette Toll Road is a Turnpike Expansion project that has been planned for decades to connect Morgantown, WV to Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River Valley. The proposed 24-mile “Pittsburgh leg? of this road is currently projected to cost $3.6 billion, more than twice what’s been spent on all other sections of the Mon-Fayette and Southern Beltway projects combined. The region’s roads and bridges are suffering from neglect partly as a result of all the money that’s been spent on the Mon-Fayette in Washington and Fayette Counties – but ironically this fact is being exploited by the toll road’s boosters, who peddle their multi-billion dollar boondoggle as the only way to provide transportation access to the Mon Valley from Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, completing the Mon-Fayette will only draw more resources away from maintenance and safety investments in the region's infrastructure.
Improving accessibility in the Mon Valley doesn’t have to cost billions. Some projects that operate on a much smaller scale have the potential to boost economic and transportation investment in the region, without damaging the environment. In this podcast, PennFuture's Western Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator Andrea Boykowycz tours the future riverfront trail connection between McKeesport and Pittsburgh with Steel Valley Trail Council President Hannah Hardy, and talks about future Pittsburgh Mon Valley trail connections with Friends of the Riverfront Executive Director Tom Baxter. You can follow along with Andrea and Hannah on the SVTC’s trail map.
For more information about the Mon-Fayette and what we can do to help Mon Valley communities move forward with achievable alternatives, visit PennFuture’s Mon-Fayette campaign page. While you're there, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work. As always, we welcome your comments. Just email us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org, or click on "Comments" below.
Fri, 15 December 2006
PennFuture is thrilled to introduce our first video podcast, or vidcast, or vodcast, depending on who you ask. No matter: tune in to see and hear why you should join us and many others in supporting a moratorium on prematurely buying and demolishing thousands of homes and businesses throughout Pittsburgh and other communities in the Monongahela River Valley.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and backers of the Mon-Fayette toll road have for decades been pushing for a Turnpike expansion that would extend from Pittsburgh to Morgantown, West Virginia. To date, they've spent over $1.1 billion on the project, but are nowhere close to completion.
The latest move is that backers of the Turnpike expansion want to buy thousands of homes and businesses in the right of way for a 24-mile section of the toll road (PA 51 to I-376) and demolish them-- but they have NO money to actually build even an inch of road. And no plan for generating the measly $2.7 billion (and growing!) estimated to construct the project.
The result: indefinite uncertainty about land use and community revitalization plans, loss of tax revenues for already-strapped school districts and municipalities, and creation of blight.
But the Turnpike Commission could simply wait: they don't have to move ahead with buying and razing communities. Tune in to learn more about the situation, and to learn about the growing list of elected officials and organizations supporting the moratorium.
Get more information on our Web site, in PennFuture Facts, and on the Hands Off Web site. Take action to let your elected officials, Governor Rendell, and the Turnpike Commission know that you support the moratorium. To join our Mon-Fayette Toll Road e-mail list to stay up to sate on this issue, e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org.
Mon, 1 May 2006
The Mon-Fayette Toll Road is the second most expensive road project in the nation, behind only the infamous Boston Big Dig. The project, that would connect Morgantown, WV and Pittsburgh, PA with a four-lane tolled highway has been in the works since the 1950s. Nothing has changed about the vision for the project, despite all the many changes we've seen in this region in the past 50 years. One final piece of the project is in the works, the leg that would link PA Route 51 to Pittsburgh and also to Monroeville, PA at I-376. That piece alone is currently estimated to cost $2 billion, before debt service-- which doubles the cost. And the word on the street is that the cost for construction is probably going to double very soon, when the latest update is released.
PennFuture has been fighting the Turnpike Expansion for years. Together with citizens and other organizations throughout the region, we argue that what is desperately needed is investment in existing infrastructure, or a Fix-it-First policy. With the litany of serious bridge and existing road maintenance and upgrade needs, and a crisis in public transportation funding, forging ahead with the Toll Road boondoggle is beyond short-sighted.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Heather Sage visits Braddock, one of the places that lies in the path of the planned Toll Road. Braddock was once a thriving riverfront city, home to the nation's first Carnegie Library and also home to one of Pennsylvania's few remaining steel mills. She talks with Braddock's new mayor, John Fetterman (36), who won the election in 2005 by just one vote, and credits his victory to an intense grassroots effort that engaged Braddock's youngest voters, many of whom had never voted before. He tapped into the concerns about the Toll Road with constituents, and is leading the charge to stop the road before it is too late. The path the Toll Road would take will slice Braddock in two, isolating its residential area and access to the Monogahela River from its recovering business district. They are joined in the discussion by Jeb Feldman, a San Francisco native and current Carnegie Mellon graduate student and Andrea Boykowycz, who hails from the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland, home to Pittsburgh's thriving universities and hopsitals, also in the path of the Toll Road.
It is critical for people to know that the funding to complete the road does not exist. However, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission does have money to begin acquiring properties in the path of the road. Those properties will be taken off the tax rolls, closing businesses and forcing people out of their homes, and reducing revenues to the already financially-strapped cities in the Mon Valley, including Pittsburgh. We are advocating for a halt to any property acquisition, and a halt to any funding for construction of the Toll Road. Elected officials need to hear from all of us to make this happen!
To stay informed about this issue, and to learn how you can get involved, visit our Toll Road information center and sign up for our list serve on the issue by sending us an e-mail expressing your interest.