The Punchlist 3-4-2021

The Punchlist is back! Each week at the end of the week, we’ll share some of our favorite sustainability, climate, local, and whatever else – related stories.

This week’s edition features more exciting local and national news about the environment!

New Plans for Riverlife: In the past 20 years, 85% of the land between the West End, 31st Street and Hot Metal bridges have seen some sort of improvement. Recently, Riverlife, a nonprofit organization, presented plans to complete the loop. The biggest changes would be the addition of two new parks, one located under the West End Bridge, and the other at the city tow pound in the Strip District. With the help of evolveEA, Riverlife has ideas for both a park and affordable housing in the Strip District location, as well as plans for Saw Mill Run Park, which would include pedestrian-friendly connections to the bridge and the trail system at the West End Bridge.

 Improved Transit: The Port Authority of Allegheny County is working towards building a transit system that is equitable, sustainable and improves people’s lives.  The public was asked what they would like to see change in public transit and the responses included increased sidewalks to safely get to transit areas, space on vehicles to accommodate for groceries and strollers, and expanding the loop past downtown. The funding for these projects is currently a problem, but the Port Authority’s CEO, Katherine Kelleman, is confident that they can find money to fund it.

Safer Commute: With the number of bicycle commuters quadrupling in the last 20 years, Pittsburgh needs to ensure that this method of transportation is safe for everyone. Pittsburgh’s new Bike(+) Plan works towards achieving this. The Bike(+) Plan aims to add 150 miles of bike infrastructure over the next 10 years, including bike lanes on busy roads like Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. The city is also working with Bike Pittsburgh and HealthyRide to provide bikeshare and ensure safety for everyone.

Much Needed New Energy System: After keeping buildings warm using steam heat for several decades, the Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal (PACT) system is failing and beyond repair. The city has recently agreed to transition from PACT to a new system managed by Clearway Community Energy. The new system will meet the city’s heating needs while also advancing its climate objectives.

Pitt Says No to Fossil Fuels: The University of Pittsburgh plans to fully divest from private fossil fuel investments by 2035. In the past 5 years, the university has decreased its fossil fuel holdings by 42%. Students, however, believe that the university is not doing enough. The Pitt Fossil Free Coalition, a student-led organization, has recently demanded that the Board of Trustees divest its $4.3 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry.

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