(PITTSBURGH) June 19, 2012 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today announced that the City of Pittsburgh has successfully applied for and received a $15 million grant from the U. S. Department of Transportation TIGER IV discretionary grant program. The grant will be matched by the City and State entities and will allow for $34 million dollars in public infrastructure investment, including a new, multi-modal transit center that will serve nearly 1,000 bus arrivals and departures in East Liberty. In addition, the grant will reconnect the busway with the current street grid, making for safer and quicker pedestrian and bike connections for transit riders. The new East Liberty Transit Center will replace the current East Liberty Busway Station and spur more transit-oriented development.
“This project will connect more people with the $440 million of public and private investment occurring in this growing neighborhood and provide the multi-modal connections that are needed to keep pace with the transformation of East Liberty,” Mayor Ravenstahl said. “These transit improvements are exactly the sort of job-creating transportation infrastructure investments that President Obama talked about in his State of the Union address and this TIGER IV award will help create the centerpiece of the 10 ½ acre privately-funded EastSide III redevelopment, bringing more jobs and residents to the area.”
This project is part of a larger strategy to better connect the transit area with the neighborhood’s recent growth, which includes over $440 million in new development either completed or underway. In addition, these improvements will enable a large, privately-funded transit oriented development called EastSide III. The new Transit Center will be at the heart of the proposed East liberty Transit Revitalization District (TRID).
"This grant is an investment in Pittsburgh and will mean more jobs and economic development in the region," U.S. Senator Bob Casey said. "This project will create jobs in the short term and over the long run help solidify Pittsburgh as a destination for major employers."
"I'm very pleased that the Department of Transportation recognized the value and importance of replacing the current East Liberty Transit Center," Congressman Mike Doyle said today. "Improving the transportation network in East Liberty is an essential component of the plan to revitalize this part of Pittsburgh. I was glad to be able to provide support for the City's grant application."
Public and private controlled land and infrastructure will be combined to provide for the relocation of critical transit and access ways to optimize safety, functionality and quality. A partnership between the City of Pittsburgh, Port Authority and the Mosites Company was formed in order to address the land use issues for this project.
“This game-changing investment marks another ‘win’ for the strong partnership that has been in place since we started Eastside,” said Steve Mosites, President, The Mosites Company. “From Mayor Ravenstahl, to the URA, to community stakeholders – all have been brought to the table to help achieve our joint goal of growing Pittsburgh’s East End.”
Barriers to access for transit riders, pedestrians and bicyclists will be eliminated by overcoming the physical barrier of the Norfolk Southern Railroad and Busway through the creation of strategic infrastructure. For decades the railroad/busway has served as a physical, social and market barrier between wealth and poverty. Elevated ground planes and strategic open-air bridge placement will re-connect both communities at grade as well as create a pedestrian and bicycle link to the Transit Center.
"The reconstruction and reconfiguration the busway, public rights of ways, and pedestrian walkways coupled with the exciting new commercial developments in East Liberty are adding even more potential to a booming neighborhood," State Senator and URA Board Treasurer Jim Ferlo said. " The success of the TIGER grant application is going to further fuel the renaissance of our City's communities."
"East Liberty has emerged as a hub -- not only as a retail destination but also as a jobs engine for the 21st century. The area serves the growing tech industry that is bringing new, talented young people that utilize the city's internationally-known educational institutions like the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.” Senator Jay Costa said. “The transit investment announced will help create a critical transportation hub that will connect people with jobs for years to come."
The new infrastructure will be integrated with the bike and pedestrian spine of Penn Avenue. Currently, limited parking and cart way width leave an automobile biased environment that discourages the use of public transit between the City’s major job centers. By integrating a bicycle garage and service facilities into the transit center we can increase public transit ridership by commuters, business district patrons and recreational users of the Bike Path system.
"We are excited about being awarded the TIGER IV grant,” Councilman Reverend Ricky Burgess said. “This grant will expand on the exciting new developments occurring in East Liberty. We hope this momentum will carry over to the neighborhoods of Larimer, North Point Breeze and Homewood; positioning them for new development activities."
Maelene Myers, Executive Director of East Liberty Development Inc. added, "The TIGER IV grant award from the federal government is an exciting turning point for East Liberty. The long-term and strategic commitment of the city, Mayor Ravenstahl, as well as Senator Casey, Congressman Doyle and private developers like the Mosites Company is transforming East Liberty and the East End. Integrating the future of transit into the heart of our district will only accelerate and strengthen the change that is underway."
The City already has preliminary environmental and historic review approvals on the transit center. Project meetings will begin immediately in order to begin development as soon as possible. Public meetings will also occur.