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News From The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

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SPC Sponsoring Free PaSDC American Community Survey Workshop November 1st

Detailed socioeconomic information is now collected by the Census Bureau every year through the American Community Survey. This survey is now the most comprehensive survey data of its type collected in a consistent manner across our region and the country as a whole.  Now, it is possible to review extensive new survey information annually on such items as population and households, income, location of work and travel to work, housing type, cost, educational attainment and other related information that was previously available only from the Census “long form” every ten years.  This new and more timely data has many applications for planning and development, workforce analysis and other public uses.

As a service to local governments and community organizations, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is sponsoring a free ACS Workshop on Thursday, November 1, 2007, which will be presented by staff from the Pennsylvania State Data Center (PaSDC).

American Community Survey:
Understanding and Using the Data
November 1, 2007
Regional Enterprise Tower, 4th Floor
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., lunch included
There is no fee to attend this workshop, but a reservation is required due to limited seating.
Reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Seating is limited. Please request a reservation by October 22 to Mary Brangan at You may also fax this form to SPC at 412-391-9160. Your reservation will be confirmed by SPC via fax or email. You must have a confirmed reservation to attend. If the November 1st workshop fills up, we will look into scheduling an additional session. If you must cancel your reservation, please let us know as soon as possible.

For more information about the workshop, the ACS, and Census data, please contact Bob Schwartz at or 412-391-5590, extension 336.

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Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County Hosting Route 30 Design Charrette October 22-26, 2007

The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County is hosting a Design Charrette October 22-26, 2007 on the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Campus [ directions ].

The mission is to develop an economically feasible site plan for an area along Route 30 in Unity Township that fits the Vision of the entire 40-mile corridor. Utilizing a 5-day design charrette, we will design the prototype development for Route 30 that is safe, efficient, and attractive, and connects with the surrounding community. Concepts emanating from the prototype will be transferable to the rest of the corridor.

The site chosen to create the prototypical plan is in Unity Township, southeast of the US Route 30 and State Route 981 intersection, near Kennametal and the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. 


Monday October 22, 2007 - Public Meeting #1
7:00 – 9:30 p.m. - Get the best ideas of how to develop the site
Smith Hall [ directions ]

Tuesday October 23, 2007 – Design Team Work Day
No public meeting scheduled

Wednesday October 24, 2007 - Public Meeting #2
7:00 – 9:00 p.m. - Review alternative development scenarios for the site
Smith Hall [ directions ]

Thursday October 25, 2007 Design Team Work Day
No public meeting scheduled

Friday October 26, 2007 Public Meeting #3
2:00 – 4:00 pm - Present the final plan and solicit feedback
Smith Hall [ directions ]

Mark your calendars and plan to participate in a week that promises to be a defining moment in community development along the Route 30 corridor. Please reply to this email or call 724-838-8020 to RSVP.

For more information about the Route 30 Master Plan, please visit the project web site

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Comment On Proposed Amendment to 2007 - 2010 TIP

Effective October 10, 2007, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is accepting written comments on a proposed amendment to the 2007-2010 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for a Regional "Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS)" project.

Comments will also be accepted as part of the upcoming public meeting:

October 17, 2007 - 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Xplorion Lobby, Regional Enterprise Tower
425 Sixth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh
[ directions ]

The amendment information is available for review during the public comment period from October 10 through November 8, 2007 in the office of SPC, in many public libraries and in county planning offices throughout the region. This document is also available here (PDF, 309K).

Written comments may be submitted through November 8, 2007 to:

425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2500
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1852
Fax to: 412-391-9160

All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on November 8, 2007. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission will meet December 10, 2007 at 4:30 p.m., 31st Floor, Regional Enterprise Tower, 425 Sixth Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh, to consider this proposed amendment.

For more information on the Regional Automatic Fare Collection System or the proposed TIP Amendment, contact Carol Uminski at 412-391-5590, extension 363 or

For meeting directions or additional information:
Meeting locations are accessible to persons with disabilities. With advance notification, accommodations may be provided for those with special needs related to language, sight or hearing. Contact SPC at 412-391-5590, extension 339, to request such assistance.

For information regarding transit services to Public Meetings in Allegheny County call Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000. For transit information in other counties, please visit:

This notice satisfies the program-of-projects requirements of the Urbanized Area Formula Program of the Federal Transit.

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Neighbor NewsOther Regions


Tolling the open road
Massachusetts considers charging by the mile for highway drivers
Source: The Boston Globe

October 7, 2007 - The monthly invoice could look something like an electricity bill or a cellphone statement. But instead of kilowatt hours or roaming minutes, it would itemize how many miles you drive - with surcharges for traveling during peak hours, premiums for using so-called Lexus lanes that bypass rush-hour snarls, and discounts for sitting through traffic jams.

The free and open road, regarded by many Americans as a birthright, could become a relic under a plan being discussed in Massachusetts and in several other states, transforming highway use from a service available to all into a utility paid for on a per-mile basis.

This philosophical shift is the cornerstone of a landmark report, released last month by the Commonwealth's Transportation Finance Commission, which was tasked with finding the estimated $15 billion to $19 billion needed to fix the state's crumbling roads and bridges over the next two decades.

Under the commission's plan, a 5-cents-per-mile fee on major roads would replace, or minimize, gas taxes and fundamentally change a central aspect of everyday life.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Boston Globe here.


Another SEPTA fare hike starts
Today's 15-cent rise is the second in three months. It is the answer to a ruling blocking transfers.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

October 1, 2007 - SEPTA's second fare hike in three months takes effect today, with 15-cent increases in the price of subway and bus tokens and transfers.
The cash fare remains $2 - one of the nation's highest. Regional Rail fares, which jumped in July, are unchanged.

Today's increases are SEPTA's answer to a court order that blocked the transit agency's plan to eliminate paper transfers. SEPTA said its revenue from subways and buses was down $1.8 million in August because of the court's transfer decision, so it had to raise fares.

SEPTA officials said at last week's meeting of the SEPTA board that this fare hike may be temporary. If SEPTA wins its appeal of the transfer decision, it plans to eliminate transfers and roll back the fare hike.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Philadelphia Inquirer here.


Missouri puts bridges on fast track

October 02, 2007 - In Minnesota, where a major bridge collapsed in August, the governor and legislators are locked in a battle over how to finance the state's backlog of transportation repairs. But Missouri is moving forward with a novel plan to fix or replace more than 800 of the state's bridges within five years.

Missouri's plan has a team of contractors financing the $400 million to $600 million in repairs and maintaining the bridges for another quarter century. In turn, the Show-Me State will use a portion of its federal bridge funds to pay back the companies over 25 years.

Already in the works before the Minnesota tragedy, the Missouri plan is now being touted as a model for the rest of the nation.

In addition to getting a lot of bridges fixed in a short time, Missouri's approach has a short-term political benefit. Lawmakers don't have to sell the public on the need for higher gasoline taxes or new tolls — proposals that have stopped transportation funding packages in other places, including Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

Missouri’s plan also appealed to contractors who could recoup as much as twice their construction costs as the state repays the companies over the 25 years. The state essentially will pay back a loan for the building costs, profit and interest that the winning bidder has included in the proposal, said Jeff Briggs, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

But the plan has its limitations. Besides the large payout, the program is targeting only smaller, rural bridges — from 100 feet to 300 feet long. None of Missouri's 11 steel-deck truss bridges, which resemble the Minneapolis span, is slated to be repaired under the plan, said Briggs of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Read a PDF version of the full story from here.

State audit proposes adding tolls, lanes
Source: The Seattle Times

October 11, 2007 — A new state audit says political leaders aren't doing enough to reduce traffic congestion and recommends adding more lanes to the region's highways and possibly using tolls to help deal with the problem.

The $1.7 million audit was released by state Auditor Brian Sonntag's office Wednesday. It is one of a series of transportation audits the Legislature requested.

The audit, done for the state by Portland-based Talbot, Korvola & Warwick, includes more than 20 recommendations. Along with adding lanes and using tolls, the report suggests transportation decisions be made by one agency instead of a multitude.

It also "shows that DOT needs to focus on congestion as a primary goal," Sonntag said.

The audit notes congestion in the region has rapidly gotten worse, to the point that during the typical afternoon rush hour in 2006, 48 percent of traffic on major freeways was moving at under 45 mph.

Acting Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said the report did not identify anything new, and that the agency is already doing or considering many of the points mentioned. "They are encouraging us to do more," she said. "If we had more money we would."

Hammond disagreed with the report's recommendation that the Department of Transportation should make congestion its top priority.

"We have to worry about first preserving the asset we have in place," she said. "We have over 7,000 miles of highway that we have to preserve and maintain. We believe that preservation and safety are a higher priority of the state's dollars than only congestion."

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Seattle Times here.

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November 5
Applications for Candidate CMAQ Projects

Details and CMAQ application forms and instructions are now available on SPC’s website via the link below.

November 8
Written Comments On Proposed Amendment to 2007 - 2010 TIP

November 21
Comments Sought on Proposal to Strengthen Public Notice Requirements for Drinking Water Emergencies

Source: PA Department of Environmental Protection

September 24, 2007 – The Environmental Quality Board published proposed rules to amend the state’s Safe Drinking Water regulations in Saturday’s Pennsylvania Bulletin. The proposed rulemaking would strengthen the public notice requirements for imminent threat violations and situations (also known as Tier 1).

The amendments will enhance the planning requirements of both the Operation and Maintenance Plan and the Emergency Response Plan sections that relate to public notification. In addition, delivery requirements for community water systems will be revised as appropriate to the type and size of the water system. Finally, these revisions will provide a few more examples of those situations that need to be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection within 1 hour of discovery.

The draft proposed amendments were submitted for review to the Small Water Systems Technical Assistance Center Advisory Board (TAC) for review and discussion on May 18, 2006, July 12, 2006, and Nov. 16, 2006. Comments were received from the TAC on Nov. 21, 2006. The EQB adopted the proposal on May 16, 2007.

Written comments can be submitted to the EQB at P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477 (express mail: Rachel Carson State Office Building, 16th Floor, 400 Market St., Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301), or by e-mail to The comment deadline is Nov. 21.

The proposed rulemaking is available on DEP's Web site at keyword: Participate.

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Project Region - Click To VisitUseful Link . . . Visit the New and Improved

SPC has revised and updated the Project Region website to make it your source for our Region’s Plan. New features include the summary and video overview of our Region’s Plan. All plan documents and materials, including our partner’s related plans, are right at your fingertips. Be sure to check back often, as we are continually adding new information!

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Produced by:
Shannon O'Connell, Communications Coordinator and Tom Straw, Web Developer

NOTE: All stories and links from sources other than SPC are provided for information only and do not constitute an endorsement. SPC is not responsible for content provided by others which is either current at the time of transmission or which changes subsequently.

For more information, visit the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission at

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NOTE: All stories and links from sources other than SPC are provided for information only and do not constitute an endorsement. SPC is not responsible for content provided by others which is either current at the time of transmission or which changes subsequently.