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!

It was another sad day in Southwestern Pennsylvania with the passing of Cranberry Supervisor and SPC Commissioner Richard Hadley,” said Vincent Valdes, SPC Executive Director. Commissioner Hadley represented Butler County on the Commission since 2015. He was dedicated to real-world planning and championed mixed use and complete streets policies for Cranberry Township as a long-time township supervisor. He brought his passion for planning to SPC’s regional forum and we will miss his expertise on how to plan for growing communities. Every day, the residents of Cranberry Township are witness to and of his life-long, dedicated public service.

Vincent Valdes

https://www.butlereagle.com/20220825/longtime-cranberry-supervisor-chairman-dies-2/

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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“It is a sad day for Southwestern Pennsylvania with the passing of Joe Grata. Joe was a lifelong public servant and advocate for our region’s transportation system first as a longtime transportation reporter who shared his deep understanding of the planning, engineering and funding of infrastructure with the public. Later, in his retirement, he worked to advance connectivity, safety and regionalism as an SPC Commissioner representing Fayette County. Joe recognized that all transportation is ‘local’ in the minds of our communities and further understood the role of mobility to regional economic vitality and quality of life. The Commissioners and staff of SPC will miss his perspective, intellect, and sense of humor as we continue our work to keep Southwestern Pennsylvania connected and moving forward.”

Vincent Valdes
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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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Allegheny County, followed by Indiana and Fayette counties, had the highest number of homes and businesses with internet connections in a 10-county region with connections so slow they didn’t even qualify as broadband, according to a new study by a Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission-led coalition of nonprofits.

At the same time, the study named Allegheny, Beaver and Armstrong as counties as places with remarkably fast online speeds as well.

Although Allegheny County had among the fastest internet speeds in the 10-county region, the study identified pockets of the county where internet access lagged — in municipalities along the Monongahela River, for example. Western Washington County, Greene County and much of Indiana County, traditionally Amish country, also lacked the fiber cables, towers and other gear necessary for speedy connections.

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The Southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA) Connected initiative today announced the launch of the Connectivity Roadmap, a guidance tool, to support the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), county leadership, and regional stakeholders in the 10-county region and the City of Pittsburgh to develop and prioritize connectivity projects and associated programs to secure funding.

The Connectivity Roadmap was developed in collaboration with representatives of the 10 counties, state and local governments, and industry experts, and through public engagement in the communities most impacted by the lack of reliable or affordable internet. Southwestern Pennsylvania is now positioned to secure federal and state broadband funding through the roadmap’s implementation guide and tools.

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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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