PA: Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission tool identifies potential transportation centers in 10-county region

Feb. 14—The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission has a new tool to encourage communities in the 10-county region to develop multimodal transit centers.

The computerized storymap uses relatively new technology to identify more than three dozen locations where centers could be set up to provide services for people who use trails, bikes, cars, buses and trains to move throughout the region. Dave Totten, an SPC transportation planner, unveiled the tool at an advisory committee meeting last week.

“There are clusters where we can develop multimodel operations in every county,” Mr. Totten said. “Every place has locations that could use a multimodal center.”

The tool, which identifies what elements each site could develop for its multimodal center, is an outgrowth of 18 months of work on a report titled “SmartMoves Connections: A Regional Vision for Public Transit.” The commission is expected to adopt the $230,000 report, funded partially with a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, later this year.

Mr. Totten said the agency decided there was no reason to keep officials from using the tool immediately. The ultimate goal is to develop a coordinated system to get people from, say, Kittanning to Pittsburgh with easy transfers and perhaps paying only one fare.

For now, the tool is available for planners to identify potential locations for multimodal centers. The next step will be for SPC to work directly with officials to help develop those sites and identify sources of additional funding.

Now, intermodal projects are eligible for partial funding through PennDOT and the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

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The study broke down clusters throughout the region into six categories: crossroads such as intersections along Route 8 in the North Hills; commercial corridors along narrow areas such as Oakmont or Route 30 in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties; wider commercial areas such as Canonsburg or New Kensington; major districts such as the Strip District or Oakland; county seats; and employment centers such as Southpointe, Monroeville and Cranberry.

The tool allows planners to look at a map with the clusters, click on the cluster and get a recommendation for the types of facilities that could be developed there.

For example, Mr. Totten said, Geensburg, as the county seat for Westmoreland County, could consolidate by moving the transit center in Greensburg to the Amtrak station, or the Beaver County Transit Authority could use its transportation center in Rochester for other services as a district hub.

Mr. Totten said he was pleased with how planners participated in the study and appeared anxious to use the new tool. The key is for transportation systems across the region to work together, he said.

“None of them can go it alone,” he said.

The regional study is among a series of projects that are trying to envision future transportation needs. They include Port Authrority’s NEXTransit, a plan for the next 25 years; Pittsburgh’s update of its long-term plan and development of a 2070 transportation plan; and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s work on a mobility plan for the Golden Triangle.

“We’ve all been on each other’s committees and working together, so we know what each other is doing,” Mr. Totten said.

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The 10-county region includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Ed Blazina:, 412-263-1470 or on Twitter @EdBlazina.

First Published February 14, 2021, 5:00am


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