The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), in partnership with DQE Communications, is applying to the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program (MMGP) to establish and enhance fiber-based infrastructure across the 10-county southwestern Pennsylvania region. SPC is the federally-designated metropolitan planning organization (MPO) responsible for the region’s transportation planning process, as well as the Local Development District and Economic Development District, that establishes regional economic development priorities and provides a wide range of technical services to the region.

In 2022, SPC developed A Connectivity Roadmap for Southwestern Pennsylvania, a strategic regional plan to identify and guide the deployment of high-speed connectivity programs and projects throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. The Connectivity Roadmap provides a guide to building a more comprehensive and equitable broadband network that will help connect people to opportunities, jobs, and education; attract new and retain current businesses; and ultimately enable southwestern Pennsylvania to be better- positioned in securing future connectivity funding for potential projects and programs.

The regional cooperation required to develop the Connectivity Roadmap has provided SPC with the tools and information needed to apply to the highly-competitive MMGP, administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Internet fiber-optic networks, also called “middle-mile” networks, act as a superhighway that allows internet traffic to quickly travel across far distances. The exits on the highway are local networks that consumers interact with, like home WiFi or business Internet—these are what we call “last-mile” services and are often offered by other Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). The MMGP focuses on the highway, not the driveway!

Historically, middle mile fiber networks are built, owned, and operated by ISP’s, telecom companies, and electric utility entities who then lease fiber to last-mile providers/ISPs. Therefore, while middle-mile construction does not immediately impact consumer concerns associated with last-mile services, such as plan pricing, speeds, or a pesky router, without extensive middle-mile network enhancements, it becomes difficult and costly to improve current network capacity or to establish reliable networks in underserved and unserved communities. That’s why SPC saw the Middle Mile Grant Program (MMGP) as the natural next step for improving high-speed broadband in Southwest PA.

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Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program

Click to learn about the next steps in getting Southwestern Pennsylvania Connected!

SWPA Connected

Learn about the SWPA Connected Program and download the Connectivity Roadmap!

The State Senate Transportation Committee met with PennDOT officials Wednesday in Pittsburgh to discuss different ideas to fix bridges across Pennsylvania, now that tolling is off the table.

PennDOT planned to implement tolling on at least nine major bridges across the state, including the I-79 bridge in Bridgeville, in order to pay for their repair or replacement, but lawsuits stopped that from happening.

Now, alternative ideas are being considered.

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A big part of having a job is getting to the job.

And that was a big part of the hiring fair that Amazon held at Steel Valley Transit in Steubenville on Tuesday.

More than two-dozen job seekers filed through the Robert J. Cutri Multi-Modal Center downtown, hoping to hear back on a job offer from the Imperial, Pa. Amazon Warehouse.

The job fair is the brainchild of Amy Kirlangitis, a Weirton woman who took a positive approach to being unemployed during the pandemic.

She found bringing a large Pittsburgh-area employer in drew job seekers. She went to work in the Amazon Warehouse.

“The recruiting office hired me, and I work there full-time ,and they said you can feed your passion. You can help the Ohio Valley come work for us,” said Kirlangitis, who is now Amazon Pittsburgh’s staffing coordinator.

Kirlangitis said with help from Ronda Craig, public involvement coordinator, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, and Tim Turner of SVRTA, the issues of transportation were handled.

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Southwestern Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure is slated to receive a slew of expansions, updates and remodels after officials approved a regional transportation improvement plan at a meeting Monday.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission approved about $6 billion in funding over a four-year period as part of the 10-county region’s plan to improve its transportation infrastructure, according to a 2023-2026 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) investment summary.

The program’s summary includes $740 million for bridge maintenance, $2.2 billion for roads, $186 million for buses and passenger vehicles and $420 million for operations and safety projects.

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Roads and bridges in Southwestern Pennsylvania will see a $300 million boost in funding because of the infrastructure law enacted in 2021.

The extra money is included in a regional plan for $1.5 billion in transportation projects that is set to be approved June 27 by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

The commission’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) covers 2023 through 2026 and includes increases in funding for bridges, highway safety improvements and bike-and-pedestrian infrastructure compared to the previous program.

The SPC is responsible for allocating state and federal funds to local transportation infrastructure projects across 10 Southwestern Pennsylvania counties that surround Pittsburgh.

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CommuteInfo is hosting a “Commuter Challenge” to encourage people to try transit, vanpool, carpool, biking, walking and telework for their commuting trips during the week of May 16 – 22, 2022.

Overview of the CommuteInfo Commuter Challenge 2022

  • The CommuteInfo Commuter Challenge is a friendly competition for anyone 18 years old or older, who live, work or go to school in one of these 10 counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Fayette, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland.
  • The CommuteInfo Commuter Challenge will be held May 16-22, 2022.
  • Commuters can try transit, vanpooling, carpooling, biking or walking to their jobsite or school or telework.
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The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission has developed a corridor plan for Brodhead Road (State Route 3007/State Route 18) between Old Brodhead Road and the Allegheny County/Beaver County border. The corridor plan includes short, medium, and long term recommendations that will improve the transportation operations and safety for all users and serve as an investment plan that will guide the planning and programming of transportation projects in the study area.

The study makes recommendations that improve regional mobility and accessibility for all, enhance the quality of life and livability of the community, and advance economic and community development goals.

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Pennsylvania will pay $23.5 million to replace the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge, officials at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission announced Monday afternoon. Even as they welcomed the news, many noted that the process to fund needed infrastructure repairs has historically taken much longer, and shouldn’t.

“The state has really stepped up in helping out the region and financing the cost for the new bridge,” said Andy Waple, SPC’s director of transportation.

The SPC is a metropolitan planning organization, which helps to coordinate the use of federal, state, and local funds to improve transportation and economic development in the 10-county region. All of the money to replace the Fern Hollow Bridge is federal, and will not require a match from local sources; that means the region won’t have to pull funding from other key projects.

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A grant from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission will provide $450,492 in funding for a sidewalk and dedicated bike path along Saltsburg Avenue, White Township officials announced at a meeting Wednesday.

Communication specialist Chauncey Ross said the township will be responsible for $60,000 in engineering costs for design fees.

The grant will fund a project that will be developed this year, with ground likely being broken in 2023, Ross said.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation will announce a five-step program Thursday to reduce an unexpected spike in traffic deaths during the pandemic with a goal of eliminating them in the future.

The program, called the National Roadway Safety Strategy, marks a major shift in the department’s approach by recognizing that drivers make mistakes and will supplement educational efforts with safer roadway designs, vehicle technology improvements and better care for accident victims. Department officials briefed the news media Wednesday on the strategy that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is scheduled to announce in Washington, D.C., at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Mr. Buttigieg announced in October his department would spend the rest of the year developing a strategy to reduce traffic deaths after estimates through the second quarter of 2021 showed the highest percentage increase since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System began in 1975. An estimated 20,160 died in the first half of 2021, an 18.4% increase over the previous year, and the fatality rate increased to 1.34 fatalities per 100 million miles driven from 1.28.

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