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Events News

The World Comes to the Commonwealth

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in May that the next G-20 Summit would be held in Pittsburgh. As a result, there was more than a few laughs from the White House Press Corp.  And why not, what does anyone there know about finance and banking or surviving an economic downturn?  After all, it is an area where people pay a fair market value for a house.  How quaint! However, the world came to discuss all of the above.

The reason President Obama chose the “City of Champions” was due to visiting the area during the 2008 campaign.  He saw how it changed from a center of steel to one with a more varied economic base. One focused on medicine, finance, and high-tech industries.  Fortunately, the industrial fore-fathers of the city were not misers and gave back to their community in the form of libraries and universities. These were the crutches by which Pittsburgh could pull it self up by its bootstraps and start over.

Leaders from around the world began arriving on Wednesday. This prompted rolling roadblocks on the Parkway West between Pittsburgh International Airport and Downtown.  The motorcades passed through the US 22/US 30-PA 60 interchange project. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 partially funded the work. Passage of the ARRA was to dig (no pun intended) the country out of the global recession. The topic of which would be the focus of the next two days.

While the leaders of the 20 largest economies and the European Union were arriving, so were the protesters. Members of Greenpeace repelled off the West End Bridge. They displayed a banner protesting the lack of attention paid to the environment by these leaders.  Arrests took place at the Fort Pitt Bridge where five others tried to do the same.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl deputized 1,000 men and women. They came from police departments as far away as Miami and as close as Johnstown. In addition to National Guardsmen and state police troopers, they made up a force of more than 3,000 officers.

The world’s leaders had an easier time getting around the city than the locals.  Only residents with a driver’s license with a Downtown address, delivery trucks (with deliveries made between 5 AM and 7 AM), taxis, hotel shuttles, armored cars, ACCESS vehicles, and medical suppliers could continue into the Golden Triangle.  Three police checkpoints were established. The locations were Smithfield Street Bridge at PA 837/West Carson Street, Fifth Avenue at Ross Street, and the Roberto Clemente Bridge at Isabella Street. However, motorists could exit anywhere.  Meanwhile, barricades closed ramps from Interstate 279, Interstate 376, and Interstate 579 and other bridges and streets.

The two-day summit went off without a hitch. Pittsburgh was able to do something no other city could: host a blood-less G-20.  Only 193 arrests took place, a few minor fires happened, and some minor damage to stores occurred.  The nearly 6,000 law enforcement personnel outnumbered the 5,000 protesters who had come to the city. Needless to say, crime dropped steeply. On the other hand, so did the need for EMTs. For instance, at times every ambulance in the city sat idle!  Thousands of police vehicles, driven by mostly out-of-towners, managed to navigate the maze of city streets without a single accident. That was perhaps the most surprising thing to come out of the two days.

Leaders of the 20 largest economies in the world came to discuss matters in Pittsburgh.

VisitPittsburgh hopes that the G-20 Summit helps tourism and attracting conventions.  It did raise interest on the global stage. As a result of the summit, the city was awarded another international event.  Pittsburgh will be the North American host city for the 2010 United Nations World Environment Day.  Meanwhile, perhaps the highest praise came from the Italian-born songwriter, singer, former model, and the current French First Lady. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy said, “I think I wish I could stay a little longer because we only stay one-and-a-half days.”

She added, “But I think it’s beautiful.” I don’t think VisitPittsburgh could have asked for a better spokeswoman in the world.

 

 

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News

Extending Interstate 376 For All the Wrong Reasons

I am trying to understand the reasons of extending Interstate 376.  Beside it creating needless work for me by having to change pages and delete some, I am against this change.

Don’t get me wrong, I am for the upgrades of the Parkway West that are included in the extension plan such as the 60 cloverleaf in Robinson. What I do not understand is the “logic” behind this renumbering.

Pittsburgh International Airport is not on an Interstate

US Representative Melissa Hart said in a WTAE-TV report in October:

We have the only international airport not served by an Interstate.

US Representative Melissa Hart

Obviously she forgot Dulles International right outside the nation’s capital. George Bush/Houston Intercontinental and LaGuardia International in New York City also do not connect to Interstates.

USAirways did not “de-hub” Pittsburgh International because it wasn’t connected directly to an Interstate.  Who knows?  The PTC might just get I-576 for the Southern Beltway which will end right at the PIA interchange on 60.

People from outside the regional will know this is no dirt road.

US Senator Rick Santorum

An exaggeration, but no matter what map you look at, it shows expressway-grade highways around the airport.

If you sign it, they will come

Some also think that placing a red-white-blue marker on an expressway automatically brings economic growth faster than a plain, boring old black and white marker.  As if the “Interstate Fairy” comes by and brings jobs overnight, ignoring the business climate of the region. Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce President Sally Haas said in the March 21, 2006 edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Having that designation is critical for getting us on the map outside the Pittsburgh region. That’s the thing that attracts developers here.

We are already on the map, any of which can be purchased in the Pennsylvania Highways Map Store.  I guess the development at the 60 cloverleaf just happened by coincidence with an Interstate designation.

Easier to get to Downtown
Map of the routes between Pittsburgh International Airport and downtown prior to extending Interstate 376.
The routes between Pittsburgh International Airport and downtown

Another reason I have heard is that it will be easier for travelers leaving the airport to get to downtown.  To leave the airport, you have two options: Beaver/Moon and Pittsburgh.  Following the signs for “Pittsburgh,” and not taking any exits, you wind up in downtown no matter the route number(s).

Instead of money replacing all of the signage for extending Interstate 376, I’d rather it go other places. Fixing some of the 47% of structurally deficient bridges across the state is a start.  Or else we’ll see more failures such as the Lake View Drive overpass on Interstate 70, and next time, the outcome might be worse.

Renaming of Interstate 376 Corridor a Step Closer – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
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