The Punch List – 10/8/18

Punch List

Money on My Drain. Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority is considering implementing a stormwater fee.  Though details are still under development, the plan could largely affect “grey” infrastructure such as parking lots. Many such businesses don’t have any water access on their sites and have never been charged by  PWSA before.

Why? “If we can control the water on people’s site, then we don’t have to control it off their site,” explains PWSA executive director Robert Weimar. Plus, the fee will help PWSA fund green stormwater infrastructure, such as bioswales and rain gardens.

 [Re]paving the Way.  Last month, Mayor Bill Peduto submitted a $132.9 million capital budget proposal to the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA). This could be the last ICA reviewed-budget. Pennsylvania Legislature established the ICA in 2003 under Act 47, a PA law meant to litigate Pittsburgh’s debt crisis. Now, Pittsburgh is financially solvent, and Act 47 is set to expire next year.

So, what’s in Peduto’s 2019 budget? It includes $20.3 million for street resurfacing, over $3 million more than the 2018 budget. It also doubles the landslide and slope-failure remediation budget from last year.  Read more details about the budget here.

Going, Going, Gondola. This week, Hazelwood Green developers announced a request for design proposals for the site’s 27-acre Mill District. Seeking LEED Gold certification for neighborhood development, the site has been slated for mixed-use development, including over 1,000 housing units. It’s already landed Carnegie Mellon’s Advanced Robotic Manufacturing Institute and an unnamed “major tech tenant.”

Other ideas for the site? The discussion has included light rails, ferries, and even gondolas. After all, Pittsburgh already beat Venice for “City of Bridges,” why not snag the gondola aesthetic, too?

But don’t expect to hail a gondola any time soon. Plans may be in development, but developers say the project could take another twenty years. Why? “We’ve set a high standard, and we’re willing to be patient,” explains project manager Rebecca Flora.

Tactical Transit. Trump is withholding $1.4 billion in federal funding for transit projects nationwide and threatening to cut another $80 billion worth in transit funding programs. What does this mean for the greater Pittsburgh area? This puts Port Authority of Allegheny County expansion projects at risk, including the bus rapid transit system between downtown and Oakland. But Pittsburgh is one of the few cities with a growth in ridership over the past fiscal year, and Port Authority plans to highlight that data through a tactical plan to save its funding.

Pittsburgh Noble-ity. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Pittsburgh native Frances Arnold this year’s Noble Prize for Chemistry—the fifth woman to win the prize since it began in 1901. A chemistry professor and researcher at the California Institute of Technology, Arnold created the first “directed evolution of enzymes,” which has major practical applications in pharmaceuticals and biofuels. Read more about Arnold’s life (including her Yinzer past) here.

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