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Rapid Transit Between Oakland & Downtown Closer To Reality

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's called Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, and Cleveland already has it -- dedicated bus lanes to move buses through congested urban centers.

"We know that Downtown and Oakland are the two biggest job centers in the region," said Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald at a press briefing on Thursday.

Connecting Downtown and Oakland on a dedicated bus lane would reduce travel time to just 10 minutes, officials say, and benefit thousands.

"Sixty percent of everyone who uses the Port Authority comes through this corridor," added Mayor Bill Peduto.

Local planners propose dedicated lanes on Fifth Avenue into town from Oakland, straight down to Liberty Avenue, with a right turn on Liberty.

The BRT would then turn right again on Sixth Avenue, going straight up Sixth across Grant Street, and down over to Forbes Avenue to head back out on Forbes to Oakland.

In order to get a dedicated bus lane on Forbes in Oakland, it'll be necessary to give up one of three travel lanes for cars.

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But officials say that's worth it because more people are likely to take the bus instead of driving their cars through Oakland.

Officials say a reduction of 10 percent of cars in Oakland would make a huge difference in congestion.

"Somebody who works Downtown but has a meeting in Oakland, they probably go get their car out of the garage to drive to that meeting and look for a place to park in Oakland and then drive back," noted Fitzgerald. "When the BRT is there, they're going to jump, they're doing to leave their car there and use the BRT to go to that meeting in Oakland."

But in some parts of Uptown and Downtown, cars would be restricted to one lane on Fifth, Forbes, Liberty, and Sixth in order to preserve some on-street parking.

The total project cost is around $240 million, with one half from the federal government and the other half from state and local taxpayers with projection completion in 2021.

Also under consideration are spur lines for the BRT on existing streets, but without dedicated lanes to carry residents to a number of neighborhoods like Highland Park and Squirrel Hill.

A public hearing to get citizen comments has been scheduled for Apr. 5.

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