Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Transportation* and the Mayoral Race Part 1

It's hard to focus on just transporation for something as "small" (relatively speaking) as a Mayoral campaign. The Port Authority which serves as the mass transit provider for Pittsburgh is not confined to the city limits and is not controlled by the mayor. However, given Pittsburgh's current position as an older city with lots of aging infrastructure (bridges, tunnels and curves oh my!) and with a half billion dollar (and unpopular for that matter) transit project going on within the city limits, these issues have high billing in this election.

This post is meant to be as non-biased as possible. I will do my best to pick apart each bit of information that I do get as evenly as possible. The first post will describe the plan of our incumbent mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

I have contacted his re-election office with the simple question of "What are your plans for transportation infrastructure and transit if re-elected as mayor?" To this point I have not received a response.

There is however the "infrastructure wish list" which was published as just that, a wish list for stimulus funds, which were at that time in the pipeline, and Pittsburgh was taking its place in line. The stimulus money has since been doled out, but I think this list provides a good blueprint of where his administration stands on these topics. Most of the items on this list address current infrastructure (Greenfield bridge repairs, major sewer repairs, etc.) . I certainly can't say anything bad about that, lord knows we have lots of old infrastructure in Pittsburgh.

However, I see little imagination, and little planning for the future in this list. Where's the transit expansion? Where's the commuter rail line Bill Peduto talked about? Maybe there's another wish list out there. If there is I sure can't find it.

Additionally, if you look on the "issues" section of his re-election page, you find his "Blueprint for Pittsburgh's Renaissance." (As an aside, saying Pittsburgh is undergoing a renaissance, is absolutely ludicrous, and actually hurts the recovery efforts of the city. Get the city out of Act 47, and stop the population loss, and then we'll talk). Nowhere in this blueprint is the word transportation or transit even mentioned. The number seven point on his "blueprint" got me excited. However, like all his other points, transportation or transit were not mentioned.

From what I was able to gather (and that's not a lot), transportation, transit and infrastructure are not too high on his list. My guess he is willing to let Dan Onorato fight those battles. I will update this column when someone from Mr. Ravenstahl's campaign responds to my question.

*For the purposes of these posts I will consider transportation to be an all inclusive term to include transportation infrastructure, and transit.


Paz said...

Good post! You and I are birds of a feather here, and I was also rather upset to not hear anything about transit in the blueprint (though the T-unnel is becoming a liability to any of the politicians that supported it).

kparise said...

Thanks for blogging about this issue! Even though I don't live in the city and can't vote in the mayoral race, I do understand the impact the City of Pittsburgh Mayor has on the region. Also, transportation is an issue that I care about as well, so I definitely appreciate your blogging on this important issue. I hope the campaigns answer your questions soon!

East Busway Blogger said...

Thanks for the kind words guys!

Paz, to your point, the NSC is certainly a liability, but I think ignoring it like the elephant in the room is not the best course of action. I think Dan Onorato said it best when he said, in essance, that the NSC in its current form was ill-concieved but it is in Pittsburgh's best interest to complete it. In my opinion, any candidate with some common sense would realize that strategically, the NSC makes sense, even though it does not make any sense right now (By that I mean, if you ever have a hope of expanding LRT into the North Hills or in the direction of the airport, the rails would have to get over under or through the river at some point.)

Paz said...

I completely agree with NSC as a long term strategy. But in the context of an election it's tough to swallow. Plus, with the TDP coming out with recommendations, you'd be creating a politically disadvantageous pickle for yourself by bringing the issues up on the campaign trail.

East Busway Blogger said...

Absolutely, however, I'm sure the question is going to come up at some point (I hope it will at least). I'm curious if they will take a sort of middle of the road approach like Steve Bland or Dan Onorato, or if they will take the Ed Rendell "Tragic Mistake" approach (as though someone had accidently dropped a live nuclear bomb on the point)

East Busway Blogger said...

Just an update, I still have received nothing from the Ravenstahl campaign concerning my question.