Sunday, December 07, 2008

Infrastructure and the Burgh

If you are interested in transportation economics and policy, you should follow David Levinson's Transportationist Blog. He saved me the time to listen to the President-Elect's radio address last week and picked up this quote:

" ... Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money."

What would a big infrastructure push mean for us? The number I see being tossed around is a fairly quick $100 billion. The political process tends to force spending like that to be evened out across the country. If it worked out like that, SW Penn. would expect to see 1% of that $100 billion. If need is taken into account at all, by any measure our infrastructure needs exceed most anywhere else in the US. Bridges, sewers, roads or the scary state of our locks and dams all have big investment deficits. If we were to get say2% of $100 billion, assuming it is net above and beyond what would be expected otherwise that you are talking about enough that would make a real impact on the local economy. That and $100 billion in infrastucture could also be a big plus for the steel industry. Most infrastructure uses a lot of steel and you would expect to see an employment here, not just in steel, but in the mining and production of coking coal.

and as an aside, if that 'use it or lose it' thought becomes policy..... what projects are on the books here that would qualify for a first big blast of funding?


Anonymous RoboticGhost said...

Rail projects?

The Keystone Corridor is about as "shovel-ready" as anything else is. I seem to remember a plan to extend light rail to Oakland dying on the vines in recent years. That could be dusted off and put back on the table also. The latter makes tons of sense anyways for a variety of reasons. Rail projects are pretty systemic cash injections; and the money stays in the US as opposed to road building that sends lots of money overseas for asphalt.

Sunday, December 07, 2008 2:22:00 PM  
Blogger smallstreams said...


Less likely, but possible, is a commuter line that would run from Oakmont to Braddock. I believe the line from Lawrence to Hazelwood is used about six times a day. If AVRR is amenable to sharing the line it could be upgraded for commuters to travel between robotics and research centers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008 7:07:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Chris - I read somewhere the draft of the game plan for infrastructure investments is out there, and it will be means-tested based on metrics such as capacity of the different technologies / investments per location, and the preponderance of projects that are (ahem) "shovel ready". Pennsylvania was penciled in at $4 Billion -- the fifth most, or so, out of all 50 states.

Illinois was #1, of course. California and Florida were 2 and 3 respectively. We might have been 4 or 5.

Sunday, December 07, 2008 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous cochleno said...

Uh oh. Would the MFX be on this list?

Sunday, December 07, 2008 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I guess I hadn't been paying attention to the MFX lately. Does anybody know the latest thinking on how to connect it to the Parkway?

Monday, December 08, 2008 1:40:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

all thoughts too long to address, but at least a plan for the spine line may be announced at some point.

and it is not inconceivable that all this will push money into MFX.

Monday, December 08, 2008 5:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

The point of the legislation is to push through projects that are have final approval, but do not have the money to begin today.

Not sure what projects PennDot has deferred in this area over the past couple of years. Maybe some of the Route 28 projects will start a year or so earlier than originally planned or some bridge projects.

The only rail project that I can remember being close to federal approval was the extension of the T to the Convention Center.

Money for locks and dams would be nice if there is an uptick in the local steel and coal industries as a result of infrastructure projects nationwide. You need a way to move those materials.

Monday, December 08, 2008 9:17:00 PM  
Anonymous johnny g said...

How to connect the MFX to the Parkway East is decided--at least at the East end of the "Y". It comes through the Turtle Creek Valley and connects between the Penn Hills and Monroeville/Plum interchanges on I-376, with additional exits at Business 22 near the Home Depot in Wilkins and to the Tri-Boro Expressway at Turtle Creek. (Aside: This might explain why the Wilkins Home Depot is rumored to be scouting alternative locations out east and why there hasn't been any rush to replace the CompUSA with a new tenant--all that land becomes the interchange with Business 22.) The engineering is done--I looked at final plans at the Forest Hills Boro building some time ago--and land acquisition along the route has begun. All that is needed is $$$ for construction. Lots of them.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008 9:24:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Johnny g,

Thanks. Any idea about the other end of the 'Y'. That's the one that worries me.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous johnny g said...


All I heard was that the "preferred route" went on the North side of the Mon, ending near the old LTV plant and joining Second Avenue. I did not see final plans for that side of the "Y", but I wasn't looking for them either.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I'd like to see a "lid" put on the Mon-Fayette Expressway if it cuts through places like Braddock and Hazelwood.That way both towns can be serviced by an efficient highway without being cut off from the Monongahela River.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 6:35:00 PM  

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