The Punch List – 8/31/18

Life, Liberty Ave. and the Pursuit of Walkability. Prepare to walk in style. Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Envisioning Downtown Initiative is envisioning a new streetscape project on the 900 block of Liberty Avenue, near Point Park University and the August Wilson Center. The “Life on Liberty Streetscape Project” will extend the sidewalk for one year and feature street art, urban gardens, and LED lights

Takin’ It to the Streets. Across town, Hazelwood pedestrians are fighting for their right to commute safely. Local activist Connor Sites-Bowen organized a Monday Morning Commute March to protest the lack of walkability in Hazelwood. One possible long-term solution? Hazelwood Green. Officials with the project announced that passageways through the development will be open to the public in early 2019, complete with a canopy and bike trails.

Sports can be so taxing (even in the City of Champions). The Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) is asking the Regional Asset District board to award money for improvements to four venues, including Heinz Field, PNC Park, and the David L. Convention Center. Some community members called foul on previous controversial public funding for improvements to Heinz Field and PNC Park, but the SEA scores points for the venues as tourist attractions.

Come hell or high water bills. There will be four public hearings next month on water rate increases. The Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) announced a proposal to increase water bills up to 28% in April. Why? The PWSA sites years of inefficient maintenance and low prices. But to increase prices, the PSWA must first go through the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

It’s more than a miner inconvenience. FirstEnergy Corp announced the deactivation of seven oil- and coal-operated plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including theBeaver County Power Station. Why? A fire damaged the plant’s pollution control equipment in January. Also, according to a press release from the FirstEnergy president, the market fails to recognize their plants’ “contribution to the security and flexibility of our power system.”

Shale me all about it. Pittsburgh’s own Marcellus Shale is playing a major role in increasing the amount of natural gas produced in the United States. According to a Department of Energy Report released Tuesday, the Appalachian Basin, which includes Marcellus and Utica Shale, is one of three regions across the country that went from producing 15% of the nation’s natural gas to almost 50%.  How’d the region get so pumped up? New drilling and completion techniques, such as the ever-popular fracking.

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