Friday, September 10, 2004

Save us from ourselves

Let's hope the federal government denies funding for this insanity. Essentially, the Port Authority is expanding the T to the North Shore to serve two private businesses--the Steelers and the Pirates. The one good thing to come out of it is the expansion of the T to the convention center. That would put a T station practically next door to the bus and train stations, as well as within walking distance (at least for most people) of the Strip District.

Then there is this boondogle--a publicly financed hotel. Did it ever occur to our fearless leaders that the reason no private company wants to build a hotel at the convention center is because they don't think it's profitable? And how would you feel to be the proprietors of other city hotels, watching tax dollars finance your competition?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This project will take us places we've never been: under the river," PDP Executive Director Mariann Geyer said, referring to twin tunnels to be bored under the Allegheny in order to extend the Gateway leg of the light-rail system to the North Shore.

In a fit of competitive pique, officials at the URA also announced that they, too, will go places no man has gone before in search of economic development.

"Pittsburgh has no greater asset than our beautiful Three Rivers," said Dewey Spendalot, acting URA Executive Director. "The URA has long sought to leverage our waterways for the greatest economic development impact. But we've never explored economic development under the rivers! If the Port Authority will go underground to rid the Iron City of gridlock, we'll dig for dollars, too."

Gov. Ed Rendell immediately promised $52 million as seed money for the enterprise, which will be overseen by a public-private partnership headed by the Underwater Community Development Corp. and The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Firefighters Union Chief Joe King also announced an end to lingering animosity between his rank-and-file and the mayor's office.

"Mayor Murphy has indicated to us that this underwater neighborhood development will include a sports arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins," said King. "The expected spin off from the initial development will create thousands of apartments underwater, and these new residents will need a fire station. To prevent layoffs, we have agreed to man the new underwater firehouse."

Gov. Ed Rendell announced that he will provide $52 million in state fire funds to build the new underwater fire station.

8:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge today raised the terrorism warning for all underwater hockey arenas and related development projects to "Orange."

"We have received important information, based on actionable and non-actionable intelligence, that there is a threat now to all underwater hockey arenas and related development projects," said Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania who helped spark stadium construction in Pittsburgh during his tenure.

"We do not have a specific time or date, nor do we know the exact threat against America's critical infrastructure of underwater hockey arenas and related development projects, but we believe it is prudent to warn the public to be aware. You should be on the look out for any unusual behavior in or around underwater hockey arenas and related underwater development projects."

Ridge said he would immediately dispatch $52 million in federal counter-terrorism funds to protect the underwater residents of the David E. Lawrence Underwater Apartments.

In Harrisburg, Gov. Ed Rendell also said he would spend "whatever it takes to protect the underwater children of Pittsburgh from the scourge of terrorism." He directed state officials to immediately disburse $52 million in commonwealth security funds.

"We've seen the terrorists attack our cities from the sky and our troops from the ground, and we wouldn't let them win," said Rendell. "If they go underwater, we'll go underwater too, and fight them every inch of the way."

8:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats funny

john mccormack

12:35 PM

Blogger fester said...

I agree, this is pretty damm dumb; not quite as bad as mixing Jaegermeister, whiskey, orange juice and beer, but up there. As I understand the light rail expansion plans, an alternative method that would loop around the back of Penn Station, to the Convention center and then crosses the river at the pre-existing bridge which could loop to the parks could be accomplished for a significantly lower capital cost (I have not seen any operating cost estimates) and that an option to extend service down the Ohio Valley OR up into the North Hills could be achieved at the same budgeted cost for the current tunnel project.

And yeah, the convention center has been and will be a fiscal boondoggle around the city's neck because unfortunately Pittsburgh is not unique like a Las Vegas or Orlando in their tourist focus or big enough like Chicago, LA and New York to captivate a constant stream of visitors in sufficient numbers. But we face one of the first responses of bad public policy, when in doubt, do more of the same.

12:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fester's solution was a parodic answer to his own musings. Even if it proved cheaper to rework the routing of the mini-subway, why should you do it barring demand for the service? Is there a legion of untapped light-rail customers brimming in the North Hills, awaiting the great opportunity to jump on it?

Is this a "Build it and they will come" economic development project that we've seen so much of in this city over the past two decades?

The region is shrinking and other municipalities are competing for the diminishing returns (see Homestead Waterfront, see also South Side Works, and see North Side developments), which basically shift development from the city center to outlying communities without sparking more economic development.

A new subway or light-rail grid will not stop the economic loss to the suburbs and, most especially, other regions. If anything, it will simply redistribute federal money to hand-picked contractors who have already benefited from the sweet largess of the Murphy years, the same sorts who will no doubt continue to contribute to his and other like-minded campaigns.

They also will hire Murphy and his dispossessed cronies as "consultants" after the next round of meaningless elections.

3:13 PM

Blogger fester said...

I should have made some of my implicit assumptions cleared. The North Shore subway extension has been discussed since Plan A I believe and I want to believe it was on someone's agenda significantly before hand. I agree that given the evidence of lack of use of the HOV and PAT buses up the 79/279 corridor there is not unmet demand right now. I am also assuming that the city would have spent a considerable amount of time and political capital in its quest for a North Shore connection even if it does not make economic sense. So my analysis comes in with the assumption that some type of North Shore rail extension will be happening no matter what. At this point I am arguing details of the project and not the project itself and my contention is that the alternative routing that I proposed (use pre-existing infrastructure, repair/modify that infrastructure and build a couple of new above ground stations) is significantly cheaper than the tunnelling option which is going forward as the preferred alternative while also giving the flexibility of further expansion to the North Hills if demand justifies that occurrence in a decade or more. You get all that at a cheaper capital cost.

Now working from your probable assumptions ie; where is the demand, I completely agree with your analysis.

4:17 PM

Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

Light rail, today, goes very near to the Convention Center and very near to the Strip District. There is a stop next to the Greyhound Bus Station. It is used once a day. With the new plan, that stop moves but a half-block away, closes, and a new stop is built. The new stop goes closer to the dumpsters of the Convention Center.

With little effort, the existing stop can be made to go straight and extend light rail along the existing EAST BUSWAY. The bus way is in the right of way that was planned for the light rail.

We should be using what is alreay there. We should be giving service to places where it is needed the most. A little surface treatment to the existing T-stop would be a snap. Escalators to new ped bridge with cover to the Convention Center, for instance. Then the next new stop could be DEEP within the heart of the STRIP District. That's where the money should go. That is what was planned decades ago.

11:26 PM


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