Uber planning to break ground at former LTV site in Hazelwood
February 23, 2016 6:59 PM
The Almono site in Hazelwood, where the former LTV Coke Works used to stand.
By Madasyn Czebiniak and Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
About 130 Hazelwood residents attending a community meeting Tuesday night welcomed Uber Technologies’ plan to test self-driving cars at a site in their community, although some expressed concern about the extent of the benefits.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor, however, said that a company such as Uber should create a ripple effect and encourage other companies to come to Hazelwood.
Uber, the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company, intends to renovate the old locomotive roundhouse at the former LTV Coke Works and build temporary test roadways for self-driving cars at the site as part of an expansion in Pittsburgh.
In a blog posting this evening, the company said it plans to break ground in the next few months on another Advanced Technologies Center research facility at the 178-acre site known as Almono.
In addition to the roundhouse building, Uber’s plan includes construction of temporary test roadways and development of a green space along Tecumseh Street. Mr. O’Connor has said the test roadways could be in place three to five years and then removed.
The research facility is expected to create dozens of jobs. Mr. O’Connor also said it could be a huge boost for the neighborhood, providing it with national recognition.
The company also will work with Almono LP, the coalition of foundations that owns the site, and the Regional Industrial Development Corp., which manages it, to design and build future roads in the area.
“The investments we’re making in Pittsburgh today are key to the long-term future of transportation,” John Bares, director of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, said in a statement. “Self-driving technology has the potential to drastically cut down on accidents and congestion while making transportation even more affordable and convenient for everyone. The adoption of this technology at scale is likely still many years off, but the Steel City is a terrific place to invest now and in the future.”
“I’m excited that Uber decided to come,” Hazelwood resident Dewayne Murray, 60, said after the meeting. “They’re going to be sort of like Macy’s or something in the mall. They’re going to be a flagship in the community, and I expect other things will start from that. I think it will be the beginning of making us a destination point.”
But lifelong resident Homer Craig, 76, wondered how the development will affect Hazelwood’s population.
“You talk about self-driven cars and Uber. I’m thinking in terms of jobs,” he said. “Right now, you have drones. Drones will eventually take pilots’ jobs. Now Uber has drivers. When those cars are self-driving, how many drivers will be working? ... I realize that it’s progress, but show us where it benefits us, because if it doesn’t benefit us, then it doesn’t matter.”
The Hazelwood facility would supplement the Advanced Technologies Center that Uber opened in the Strip District last year, working on mapping and safety technology for the self-driving cars.
Uber representative Jeff Fullerton told residents, “The things that we will do in there are fairly quiet, fairly non-obtrusive.”
Uber said the Almono facility would be in place temporarily while the RIDC prepares the land for long-term housing and office development.
Duquesne Mayor Phillip Krivacek has said that Uber also is considering a test track at the former U.S. Steel Duquesne Works, now an industrial park, although a source with knowledge of the discussions said nothing concrete is planned.
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