Federal, state, and local officials are highlighting the impact of a major federal grant program to help combat climate change.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan joined Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7th, Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk, and other local officials and representatives at the waterfront in Allentown on Tuesday to discuss the EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program.

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Fayette County Commissioner Vincent Vicites put the county on display Monday by hosting the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission meeting at the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council office.

Vicites serves as SPC secretary-treasurer.

The organization has moved recent meetings while its Pittsburgh Strip District offices are undergoing renovations.

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Aurora Sharrard
Executive director of sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh
Aurora Sharrard is the first-ever sustainability ED role for the University of Pittsburgh. This entails overseeing sustainability staff and the university’s sustainability efforts, policies, and partnerships related to its sustainability strategy. Sharrard was previously the Green Building Alliance’s executive director for 11 years and cofounded the Pittsburgh 2030 District, a network designed to ensure that communities and buildings are sustainable. In her spare time Sharrard is a board member for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services and co-chairs the Pittsburgh’s Higher Education Climate Consortium.

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The draft long-range transportation plan for 10 southwestern Pennsylvania counties and the city of Pittsburgh calls for spending $41.4 billion over the next 25 years for roads, bridges, public transit and trail improvements.

That’s nearly a $10 billion increase since the plan was updated four years ago and marks a major change in emphasis from road and bridge work to public transit. Under the new proposal from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, transit spending is expected to increase from $14.4 billion to $26.8 billion while road and bridge spending is expected to drop from $17.3 billion to $14.6 billion.

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Reconstruction and intersection changes on Route 30 are among more than $1.1 billion in long-term highway projects proposed in a 25-year transportation plan for Westmoreland County.

The reconstruction of Route 30 would occur between Leger Road in North Huntingdon and the Irwin borough limits, and improvement is planned for two intersections in Hempfield — at Donohoe and Georges Station roads.

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About three dozen people attended the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission meeting in the former Gallatin Bank Building.

Ryan Gordon, SPC transportation program development manager, said the Long Range Transportation Plan is nearing the end of an 11-step process.

County officials are expected to approve the plan by June 26.

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The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission is hosting a virtual meeting from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, to gather public opinion on the county’s long-term transportation and infrastructure needs.

In June 2019, the commission adopted the region’s long-range transportation plan called “SmartMoves for a Changing Region,” which includes more than $35 billion in regional transportation projects for the next 25 years. Tuesday’s meeting is part of the its effort to periodically update the plan.

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Pittsburgh officials are close to finalizing the design for the Charles Anderson Bridge, which carries Boulevard of the Allies over Schenley Park, and connects Oakland to Squirrel Hill; construction is slated to begin in 2024. While that’s two years ahead of schedule, city officials and community members alike acknowledged at a meeting Wednesday night it still feels like a long time off.

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