Mon/Fayette Special Edition: Are There Alternatives to New Toll Roads?

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Are There Alternatives to New Toll Roads?

Hotline, Fall 2001

by Beth Toor, Treasurer, Citizens for Alternatives to New Toll Roads

Citizens for Alternatives to New Toll Roads (CANTR) believes there are numerous alternatives, which, in combination, can provide a better solution to the region’s needs than the proposed Mon/Fayette and Southern Beltway Toll Roads. CANTR believes our objective should be to provide transportation so as to:

  • integrate all modes of transportation
  • reduce congestion,
  • reduce pollution,
  • prevent urban sprawl,
  • maximize employment in the region, especially where public transit and other infrastructure already exist,
  • minimize costs to the tax payer.

The first group of possible alternatives are those which state and municipal highway agencies can do by identifying and improving corridors with heavy congestion:

  • Fixing and maintaining existing roads
  • Widening roads without increasing Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) capacity
  • Straightening roads
  • Enlarging intersections to provide turning lanes
  • Upgrading traffic signals (modernizing and coordinating)
  • Building some sections of new arterial roads
  • Building some sections of non-Turnpike freeways

The second group of alternatives are those designed to decrease SOV driving, and are ones which transit companies, city government, employers, and the metropolitan planning organization can undertake (and in fact PAT and other agencies are already trying some of the suggestions in this list):

  • Van pools (possibly with guaranteed ride home in emergencies)
  • Inducements to ride existing transit:
    • More and better park and ride lots
    • Small collector buses or vans in suburbs to provide access to transit without driving
    • Get employers to issue free or low-cost transit passes instead of providing parking
    • Better scheduling of buses for connections
    • Car-free streets downtown, improving transit access and speeding transit traffic
  • Facilitating bicycle and pedestrian traffic:
    • Build bicycle trails for commuting, not just recreation
    • Provision of secure bicycle parking beside transit routes
    • Bike racks on transit vehicles
    • Changing rooms, showers and lockers for cyclists and pedestrians
    • Adding bicycle and pedestrian lanes during road improvements
  • Additional transit lines:
    • East Busway extension
    • Airport transit
    • North Shore rapid transit line
    • Rapid transit line to east, going beyond Squirrel Hill Tunnel
    • Additional service to North Hills, possibly using railroad rights-of-way
  • Passenger ferries across rivers
  • Decreasing the number of commuters during rush hour:
    • Encouraging telecommuting
    • Staggering work hours
    • Use of 4 10-hour days, rather than 5 8-hour days.
  • Making people pay for convenience:
    • Differential parking rates
    • Higher fares in rush hours
    • Tolls on bridges or existing roads.
    • Create a regional rail authority

Then there are some more experimental methods, which would probably require federal funding outside the normal transportation money coming to the state. If some of these are successful, they could become the basis of new manufacturing jobs for the region:

  • Maglev
  • Roadbed guides
  • Small (including electric or hybrid) cars to be used by various drivers as needed

Some combination of these alternatives can provide the transportation we need, making better use of our existing infrastructure and preserving our countryside, reducing congestion, reducing pollution, preventing more urban sprawl.