Bethel, Castle Shannon T stops reinstated

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Light Rail Transit System stops at Sandy Creek in Bethel Park and Smith Road in Castle Shannon got last-minute reprieves on Friday from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The Port Authority had proposed eliminating 13 stops in South Side and South Hills neighborhoods as a way of speeding up commuter service, but Mr. Fitzgerald asked that two of the changes be scrapped. He made the requests after meeting with people who live near the affected stops and walking through their neighborhoods.

The Port Authority also agreed to retain the Hampshire stop in Pittsburgh's Beechview neighborhood, but will end service at the nearby Coast stop.

Although the Port Authority, which operates the county's bus and light rail systems, is a quasi-independent agency overseen by its own board, the county provides about $24 million in annual operating funds and appoints board members. Those controls give Mr. Fitzgerald and Allegheny County Council significant influence over its operations.

Mr. Fitzgerald met Thursday night with residents opposed to cutting the Smith Road stop. On Friday, he and a half-dozen municipal and Port Authority officials took a light rail train ride to get a first-hand look at the topography around the Sandy Creek platform.

"Let's keep it for now," Mr. Fitzgerald said of the Sandy Creek service. The track-side platform primarily serves residents of Timberidge townhouses and nearby Sandy Creek apartments.

Patrick Grimm, president of the Timberidge Condominium Association, accompanied the officials on their hike from the Sandy Creek stop to West Library, the next closest stop on the light rail Blue Line. The half-mile walk sent them down a steep hill and across busy Route 88.

"It's just not walkable," said state Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon.

"The T stop is one reason why people move here," county Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park, said.

While the Port Authority estimates that an average of 50 people use the Sandy Creek stop each day, Mr. Grimm said he believed Monday-through-Friday commuter traffic was higher.

Timberidge residents, through their condo association, had spent about $50,000 constructing the long wooden staircase that connects their neighborhood to the T stop, Mr. Grimm said.

Port Authority CEO Steve Bland said closing 11 stops on the two transit lines should result in a significant time savings. "Saving time equals saving money," he said. Those savings could translate into more frequent light rail service or could free up resources to be used elsewhere, he said.

The elimination of stops is scheduled to take effect Monday.

T Stops discontinued

• Traymore

• Coast

• Boustead

• Neeld

• Kelton

• Martin Villa

• Santa Barbara

• Mine 3

• Lindermer

• Center

• Latimer

Source: Port Authority

region - Transportation

Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159. Molly Born contributed to this report.


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