TRID study is first step in developing areas around transportation
Some of the consultants from Philadelphia who are interested in plans that may result in development near local transportation were amazed and shocked by all the hills in Pittsburgh.
"We have worked before in places that were hilly. But not Pittsburgh hilly," said Scott Page, lead consultant from Interface Studio, an urban/design planning firm based in Philadelphia.
He and other members from his team of ten people presided over a public meeting at the Warrington Recreation Center last week.
"Why do all this planning?" he asked and then answered his own question. "To empower residents, to coordinate efforts and to raise money."
Patrick D. Roberts, principal transportation planner for the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, the other main speaker that night, told the audience of more than 30 people "this is the beginning process. This is our kickoff meeting."
SMART TRID (South Metro Area Revitalization through Transit: Transit Revitalization Investment District) refers to an important project they are conducting, a planning study.
The planning efforts focus on discovering revitalization and redevelopment opportunities around South Hills Junction and also near Broadway Avenue in Beechview to determine how these vital transportation and commercial corridors can best be used to promote lasting, sustainable growth and development.
A similar meeting was held in Beechview at McCann Hall in St. Catherine's Church on Oct. 27.
"A TRID involves a state program that allows taxes captured locally to be used to improve the community. Once an area is designated a TRID, it is first in line for state funding," Mr. Page said. TRID planning is occurring all across the country.
"This will improve quality of life," Mr. Roberts said.
"This is very, very exciting for the whole area," State Rep. Chelsea Wagner added. The state representative held meetings and discussions about acquiring a TRID designation months ago.
The riders on the light rail transit (the "T") may not know that there are great neighborhoods just beyond the South Hills Junction, Mr. Roberts said.
He said he is waiting for the Port Authority to provide statistics on how many people use each stop along the "T." He has heard that 40,000 people pass through the South Hills Junction daily during "peak" hours; that includes 25,000 and 15,000 by bus.
Of course, riders use the Junction during other times of the day and there may be a total usage by 100,000 people daily, he said.
The South Hills Junction is surrounded by walls, slopes and streets. Some of the stairways leading from the junction are considered unsafe and are closed to the public, Mr. Page said.
Studies have shown transportation is the second biggest cost paid by families and people who live near public transportation are five times more likely to use that transportation. Traveling by car is likely to become even more expensive, he added.
"It is okay to have a vision but you have to have a realistic forecast of how to get there from here," Mr. Roberts said.
The SMART TRID study his firm is conducting was funded by: $150,000 from the state; $75,000 obtained through City Council, the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development and State Rep. Wagner; and $3,500 from the City of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Page said the planning will include public outreach, including meetings, community visits and walking tours. Planners will develop a strategy to address problems. An analysis of the real estate market is important. Those involved in planning and discussions must prioritize the steps needed to make a TRID designation happen.
Any development resulting from the SMART TRID study is likely to occur in phases, Mr. Roberts said.
The advantages of Transportation Oriented Development are: serving the community, reducing crime, connecting riders with their jobs and developing vacant land, Mr. Page said.
At the next public meeting representatives of the consulting firm will discuss their understanding of the communities affected by SMART TRID. The date for that has not yet been set.