The North Shore Connector, the latest expansion of the Port Authority's "T" Light Rail service, will officially open for service on Sunday, March 25th. The 1.2 mile extension will pass under the Allegheny River, connecting Downtown Pittsburgh with the North Shore, PNC Park, and Heinz Field.
In addition to the new transit line, three new T stations were constructed as part of the project. The new Gateway Station features a translucent structure which brings natural lighting into the underground platform. The station was designed by the Light/Motion Collaborative, a joint venture between EDGE Studio and Pfaffmann & Associates.
Located within Gateway Station is the restored “Pittsburgh Recollections” mural by renowned artist Romare Bearden. Originally completed in 1984, prior to the opening of the original Gateway T station, the mural was carefully restored over a 13-month period by conservator McKay Lodge, and installed in its new location last fall.
The mural features transportation motifs, and an interpretive timeline of Pittsburgh history, from Native American culture to modern industry.
The North Side Station was designed by Cooper Carry, of New York, and the Allegheny Station was designed by Burt Hill, of Pittsburgh.
The T’s Free Fare Zone will be extended to both new North Shore stops, and will continue to include all stops Downtown.
Last month, the Port Authority announced that along with a previous agreement between the Stadium Authority and Alco Parking, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Rivers Casino would underwrite the northernmost segment of the North Shore Connector. This will allow for free rides at all times, at no cost to the Port Authority, and is expected to last up to three years.
Travel time between Allegheny station (end of line) and Wood Street Station is estimated at 9 minutes. Service will run 7 days a week, with extra service during special events. Cars will arrive every 4 minutes during peak periods. Schedules are available at the Port Authority website.
The $523 million project was funded through federal, state, and county funds. According to the Port Authority, these were capital funds specific to the project, and cannot legally be applied to the agency’s operating budget deficit, or to prevent service cuts or fare increases.
Port Authority spokesperson Jim Ritchie says that if the most recently proposed budget cuts do take place, light rail service will be cut back in September.
“Obviously, we don’t want to cut service,” Ritchie says, “So we're…looking to make sure that doesn't happen if at all possible, and we're taking the steps necessary to try to achieve that.”
Ritchie says that the future of transit in Pittsburgh, whether it be further extension of the T Light Rail service, or Bus Rapid Transit between Downtown and Oakland, is at the will of the community.
“We're going to go in the direction the community wants us to go, and that's what we’re looking for,” Ritchie says.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Jim Ritchie