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Smart Growth Conference to focus on transportation, green infrastructure, redevelopment financing

One of the Pittsburgh region’s greatest challenges is a long-term solution to transportation funding.  And it’s one of three major topics to be addressed at tomorrow’s 12th annual Southwestern Pennsylvania Smart Growth Conference.

The conference is a gathering of business leaders, local government, and other professionals and non-profit groups.  According to Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Court Gould, the region’s challenges—including transit—are issues that can only be solved by cross-sector coordination.

“The solution for public transportation funding won’t just be found in Harrisburg,” Gould says.  “Rather, it has to be shouldered by our region.”

At the conference, Barry Schoch, PennDOT’s Secretary of Transportation, will give a talk titled Beyond quick fixes.  According to Schoch, transportation funding has historically involved short-term infusions but not long-term solutions. 

“As we look at this to the future, for all modes, we’re looking at solutions that we believe will grow in time, that will be fair and user-fee based,” Schoch says. 

Specifics of the plan will be announced early next year.

This transit conversation comes just days after Governor Corbett’s recent pronouncements that his administration is committed to finding a plan for funding transportation in Pennsylvania.

Although Secretary Schoch won’t be providing specifics on the plans being developed by his department and the governor, he intends to use the conference as an opportunity to hear from the audience about local transportation priorities.  He says this information will help shape those future plans.

The Smart Growth Conference, created by Sustainable Pittsburgh, is co-presented this year by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Local Government Academy.  Other conference topics include green infrastructure and urban redevelopment financing. 

The Smart Growth Conference will be held tomorrow, Thursday, December 13th, from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh; Barry Schoch, PennDOT
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