Light-rail extension must be done with the city in mind

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As much as Kevin M. Creagh and Steve DiMiceli ("Go North, Light Rail," The Next Page, Dec. 23) would like the business that a North Hills light-rail line might bring, light rail to the North Hills is not the logical next step in our region's transportation infrastructure.

Maybe the logical third step. True, the North Shore Connector was designed with a west and north extension in mind. But doing this now is like the National Rifle Association saying that after a calamity we need more guns. The North Side was devastated to make way for a multilane highway because planners at the time saw the city as disposable. More giant sucking sounds to the North Hills?

Not without relieving the bottleneck of transit connections to Oakland and other East End neighborhoods. It will be expensive but the payoff in employment and property values would be far greater to build dedicated rail transit to Oakland, above or below ground. We're on the cusp of a surface rail line to Oakland with the currently planned "Oak-to-Oak line" (Oakmont through Lawrenceville to Oakland, then even onward to Hazelwood and Carrie Furnace in Braddock) and that needs to come first!

After this is accomplished the North Hills line will serve to reduce auto traffic thus reducing carbon emissions, but not create another mass migration to an area already congested with inefficient sprawl development. The North Hills line should be built in the HOV lanes, by the way. Check out the BART along I-580 near San Francisco for a good model.

This is the 21st century; real estate sales and cultural preferences are swinging ever more steadily toward renewed urban development. Let's make the infrastructure 21st century, too, but close the gaps to Oakland first.

RON GAYDOS
Squirrel Hill


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