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A plan for a so-called "bus rapid transit" loop between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland has the potential to change the way commuters in the Mon Valley get to work or school.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County will hold the first of three public hearings on the bus rapid transit proposal tonight at 6:30 p.m. at The Avenue apartments, 325 Braddock Ave. in Braddock.
The second will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Palisades Ballroom, 100 Fifth Ave., Downtown, and the third at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Duquesne City Hall, 12 S. Second St.
Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said in a prepared statement that riders of the 61A, 61B and 61C buses are particularly urged to attend the hearings and provide input.
Those attending will learn more about the proposed changes and have an opportunity to provide feedback on initial service ideas, Brandolph said.
The BRT loop is $195.5 million project is designed to create dedicated bus lanes in the city of Pittsburgh that would enable riders to get between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland -- a distance of about three miles --- in 10 minutes or less.
In June, Port Authority received approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin the project development phase of the BRT project.
Then, last week, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a regional planning body that oversees major infrastructure projects in a 12-county area, gave its approval to the BRT loop.
In addition to riders who are traveling between Oakland and downtown Pittsburgh, the BRT loop also would impact those buses --- including the 61 series buses to Braddock, Swissvale, Homestead, Duquesne and McKeesport --- that currently pass through the Oakland hospital and university corridor.
The Port Authority argues that the BRT would improve existing service to 24 Pittsburgh neighborhoods and help to revitalize the three-mile corridor, which includes Pittsburgh's Hill District and Bluff neighborhoods.
Some critics worry that it will inconvenience riders in the Mon Valley who will have to change buses in Oakland to continue to downtown Pittsburgh.
Brandolph said some pieces of the project continue to be addressed, including considerations for transfers and fare policy, and the impact on the Authority’s non-BRT service. The meetings in Braddock, McKeesport and Duquesne will help to address those items, he said.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, on behalf of Allegheny County, the city of Pittsburgh and Port Authority in September submitted the first part of an application for funding to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Small Starts program, Brandolph said. The application requested Small Starts funding for half of the $195.5 million cost.
If included in the Trump administration’s 2019 budget, Brandolph said, the Port Authority estimates that construction would begin by mid-2019, with the system put into service by 2021.
(Photo via Flickr by user Can Pac Swire. Used under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.)
Originally published October 02, 2017.