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Mayor: Work on nearby garage expected within months
The Downtown park-and-ride lot will be closed through the end of the year while Port Authority of Allegheny County makes improvements to the facility. (Tube City Almanac photo)
The McKeesport Transportation Center will close Saturday for the remainder of the year as Allegheny County’s transit agency begins the second phase of improvements to the facility.
A spokesperson for Port Authority of Allegheny County said the work will include four new bus shelters with benches, 19 additional parking spaces, two bus ticket vending machines and improved access for bicycle riders who want to use the Great Allegheny Passage trail.
In addition, a restroom building will be constructed for bus drivers and the sewerage system at the site will be improved to accommodate more rainwater runoff through use of an underground retention tank.
The cost of the improvements is $3.4 million.
Combined with the upcoming renovation of the nearby Lysle Boulevard parking garage, and the pending demolition of the block across the street from the transit center, Downtown will begin to look different in 2021, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said.
“There are a lot of good things happening,” he said.
This block of Fifth Avenue, on the opposite side of Lysle Boulevard from the transit center, has been targeted for demolition by city officials. (Tube City Almanac photo)
The temporary closure will force several bus stops to temporarily relocate from the transit center to Lysle Boulevard, including the 60 Walnut-Crawford Village, 61C McKeesport and P7 McKeesport Flyer.
Riders who use the park-and-ride lot will have to find new parking until January 2022, Port Authority said. There are other park-and-ride locations at Olympia Shopping Center on Walnut Street, on Route 837 in Duquesne and in North Versailles Twp. near the former Loews theater.
The first phase of work at the transit center, completed in 2018, included demolition of the old train and bus waiting room and the addition of 34 new parking spaces.
When the second phase is complete, there will be 85 parking spaces available for transit riders.
Total value of the work is more than $4 million, said state Sen. Jim Brewster, a member of the transit agency board.
“These are the kinds of projects that I’ve advocated for,” he said in an interview. “We need to keep upgrading these kinds of infrastructure, especially when we’re trying to re-develop the mill site, when we’re going to be opening the parking garage next to the transportation center. Huge progress is being made.”
In 2018, the state Department of Transportation awarded McKeesport $2.9 million in funding to help rehabilitate the parking garage and re-route the bike trail.
Cherepko told council this month that the city will soon be soliciting bids for renovations to the garage, which was built in 1959 with a capacity of more than 400 cars. Under one proposal, the garage would be connected to the adjacent former Daily News Building with a covered, elevated walkway.
Both the garage and the News Building, now called the Tube City Center for Business & Innovation, are owned by the city.
The contract to renovate the garage could be awarded as early as the March council meeting, Cherepko said.
“I understand not just the want, but need, to have quality transportation options in the Mon Valley, especially in McKeesport” said state Rep. Austin Davis of McKeesport, another member of the Port Authority board.
“It’s because of this that I advocated for the completion of this project,” Davis said in a prepared statement. “Mon Valley residents deserve access to a reliable and affordable mass transit system, and this is another step toward reaching that goal.”
Originally published January 13, 2021.