Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Piece of Good News, No Matter How You Look at It.

The Trib had an article a few weeks ago about potential development for the former LTV Steel site in Hazelwood. I have wanted to write about it for sometime, but there has been a lot of other transit related news to discuss. Check out the article here.

In a nutshell, Bombardier, whose people mover division (think the subway on tires at the airport, or skybus) is located in West Mifflin wants to put a test track at the Hazelwood site. That's good news for a couple of reasons.

#1: If this proposal is to take place it represents re-development of a former brownfield site within the City of Pittsburgh. Re-development is good. Re-development within the City of Pittsburgh is even better. Additionally, it is an investment in the future. With the recent re-investment in transportation systems both in the U.S. and abroad, the indication is that this test facility and West Mifflin factory, and all the jobs that go with those two would be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

#2. From a transit/transportation perspective, this could makes Pittsburgh look good. To have a test facility for future transit projects increases Pittsburgh's standing in the transit world, and perhaps, down the road, could lead to future transit investments in Pittsburgh, either by Bombardier, or other transit/transportation companies. I realize I am being optimistic, and that generally optimism is pretty dangerous, but sometimes it just feels good.

Now for the reality/common sense check. First this isn't finalized yet. Obviously, negotiations between the city (URA) and Bombardier must take place. After that, they still have to get the proper permits to begin construction.

Additionally, the third last paragraph just doesn't make sense. Apparently, someone from the URA had the foresi...delusion to request that Bombardier "...eventually connect it with a transit system that links the site with the Pittsburgh Technology Park in Oakland and to Downtown".

Whaaaa?????? Did I miss something? Are we going to give the skybus another shot? All indications are that this will be a rubber tire people mover TEST track i.e. a CLOSED LOOP. Additionally, a rubber tire people mover is completely incompatible with any other mode of transit currently used by the Port Authority. Even if this is a steel rail test track, it is very unlikely that it will be compatible with Pittsburgh's current LRT system, or that it would be compatible with a heavy rail commuter service.

I would agree that whatever facility they build should have access to public transit, be it bus, or a commuter rail line, but I sincerely hope they are not suggesting that they take this system and attempt to extend it to Oakland or Downtown, thus creating yet another form of transportation that doesn't really go anywhere or connect to anything. ugh.

Just let them build it and be happy about the development.

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