The MLK Jr. East Busway

Pennsylvania to spend $142 million on congested Pittsburgh roadway

January 10, 2024

The state of Pennsylvania will use a $142.3 million federal grant to support a multimodal corridor project that will make two of Pittsburgh’s most heavily traveled roadways safer. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will spend an estimated $213.2 million over the next three to five years on the Eastern Pittsburgh Multimodal Corridor (EPMC) Project, which will mitigate congestion on Interstate 376 (I-376) Parkway East and the MLK Jr. Busway.

I-376 Parkway East serves as the primary route between the city’s downtown and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It is the country’s fifth-most congested section of interstate, according to a joint release issued by U.S. Rep. Summer Lee’s office. The MLK Jr. Busway is a Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) bus route that connects downtown Pittsburgh to local neighborhoods.

Big‑ticket items include a $57.5 million investment in Active Traffic Management systems to improve traffic flow, incident response and congestion. The traffic upgrades include dynamic message boards, variable speed limit systems, wrong-way vehicle detection, queue warnings and an Arterial Traffic Management system.

Plans call for a $39 million floodwall to drain a section of I-376 that frequently floods during storms, known locally as “the Bathtub.” The heavy rains cause commuter problems and high cleanup costs for the city.

Upgrades to the MLK Jr. Busway include using $46.5 million to build a hard shoulder with a ramp to the busway. Plans also call for $23 million for the busway’s paving, drainage and retaining walls.

The city will use an additional $23 million to replace the Wilkinsburg Penn Avenue Bridge and rehabilitate nine others. Another $13 million is slated to stabilize slopes and implement landslide protection measures. The also city will use $10.5 million to support PRT’s fleet of electric buses and charging infrastructure.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will provide the funding through the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant (MPDG) program, an initiative that supports large highway, bridge, rail, wildlife crossing and public transportation projects. That MPDG is supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which as of late November had $$346.8 billion available for transportation projects.

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Photo by Dllu

Paul Stinson

Paul Stinson has more than 15 years of journalism experience, including a decade covering the legislative and regulatory affairs of Texas, South Africa, and Germany for an affiliate of Bloomberg, L.P. His experience includes covering voting rights and the sectors of environment, energy, labor, healthcare, and taxes. Stinson joined the team in October as a reporter for SPI’s news publications, which include Government Contracting Pipeline, Texas Government Insider, and the newly-launched Government Market News. He is also a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, and an Arthur F. Burns Fellow. He holds a master’s in journalism from Indiana University.   

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