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Renovation of Edgewood train station back in limbo

By Joe Grata,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Saturday, February 19, 2005

Renovation of Edgewood’s historic train station will have to wait. Again.

The Port Authority board’s engineering and construction committee yesterday recommended rejecting all bids for the train station improvements and rehabilitation of the Swissvale Avenue and Whitney Avenue pedestrian tunnels under the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway Extension.

Engineering and Construction Manager Henry Nutbrown said the low bid for only the general construction portion of the project was $715,000, well more than the $420,000 estimate. The electrical and heating-ventilation low bids totaling $124,000 also exceeded estimates.

“We believe the proper course is to step back, redesign and reduce the scope of the project” in order to bring costs closer to budget, he said.

A group of Edgewood officials and residents fought the 2.3-mile busway extension for more than a decade. Consequently, the Port Authority dropped the local improvements from plans and went ahead with the busway, anyhow.

The buses-only road opened between Wilkinsburg and Swissvale-Rankin in July 2003. A year later, the borough and the authority reached agreement on changes to the 1,500-square-foot train station. Now housing an antique shop and real estate office, the historic building is adjacent to the busway at the bottom of Maple Avenue.

Once the scaled-back renovations are done, the Port Authority is to lease the building to Edgewood for a nominal amount for 29 years. The borough is to use it for community purposes.

In other business, the authority board:

* Recommended a $2,450,000 extension of an agreement with consultant Booz Allen to oversee a $151 million contract to buy 28 light-rail vehicles and rehabilitate 40 old LRVs, all by late next year.

So far, all 28 new cars have been shipped; 14 are used in daily service. The first two old vehicles have been rehabilitated and are being tested on South Hills tracks; five more have been shipped to CAF USA’s plant in Elmira, N.Y., for work.

* Gave preliminary approval to a maximum $400,000 extension of a $6.6 million contract with a group of consulting firms to continue work on a draft environmental impact statement for a proposed high-speed, magnetically levitated train between Pittsburgh International Airport and Greensburg.

Maglev Inc. and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, partners in the maglev project, are awaiting Federal Railway Administration approval to release the statement for a 45-day public comment period and four public hearings. They expect those proceedings to take place this spring.

* Heard Nutbrown report continuing progress on development of an intermodal transportation facility in Robinson. By this time next year, he said work is expected to be under way on an 820-space park-n- ride lot and on Montour Run Road improvements at The Pointe at North Fayette retail center.

* Was told staff and Bethel Park officials are working toward what Nubrown called “a satisfactory outcome” to the municipality’s plans to impose a 10 percent parking tax on the authority’s new 2,200- space parking garage at the South Hills Village T station.

“The tax at this time would be counterproductive to our efforts and could result in reduced ridership,” Nutbrown said, rather than boost ridership after $500 million in light-rail improvements over the past several years.

(Joe Grata can be reached at or 412-263-1985.)

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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