New survey for transporation planning notes water runoff and tech issues
Four years ago, self-driving Ubers were still a dream and problems with flooding and water runoff seemed to happen to someone else.
But as the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission develops its federally required update to its long-range transportation and economic development plan for the 10-county region, technology improvements and a record year of rainfall have moved those issues to the front burner, said Abigail Stark, public involvement specialist for the commission.
The agency expects to have a draft update of the long-range plan available by April for public comment, to hold meetings for public review in each county and to present it for adoption at the commission’s June meeting.
The planning process began in November 2017 with the formation of a regional task force to identify issues that deserve
attention. After a series of panels and public meetings, that list was pared last fall to three areas of concentration: connected mobility, globally competitive economy and resilient communities.
Now, the commission is conducting a survey on its website through Feb. 1 for area residents to rank their top five priorities out of eight options. For example, under resilient communities, the options are: investing in strategies to deal with climate change; pushing projects to improve air quality; reinvesting in older communities; teaching municipal leaders the best practices for economic growth and improvements in transportation; conserving natural resources and providing recreational activities; using innovative technology to build sustainable infrastructure; and protecting communities from natural disasters such as floods and landslides.
Ms. Stark said early results show residents favor using technology, protecting their communities and having better connections among public transit systems in the region. Flooding and runoff concerns, in particular, are more prominent than they were when the most recent update was done four years ago, she said.
“That’s something we heard four years ago, but it’s a lot more now,” she said. “[Water damage] is becoming something more people are experiencing now. People are paying more attention to that.”
In transportation, Ms. Stark said, projects in the plan’s first four years already have been funded and included in the region’s Transportation Improvement Plan. The plan also will include future projects, some that are in the pipeline for funding later and others on the region’s “wish list.”
The commission oversees long-range planning for Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties as well as the City of Pittsburgh.
An Uber vehicle makes a splash while driving on Smallman Street in the Strip District. Flooding and the use of more technology in transportation are among the concerns the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission is exploring as it works toward a new regional plan.