Thursday, January 15, 2009

Less Than $20 Million

According to the Steelers and VisitPittsburgh, the home AFC championship game should bring in $20 million to the city on Sunday. That's on top of the $18 million for last week's game.

And how much extra are these games adding to the drink tax coffers alone? I'm going to make an educated guess and say that if you take the drink tax profits from Steelers Sundays, that alone will easily land you $1 Million per year.

The North Shore Connector is costing the county 3.33% of its total cost - or about $15 million. Even if it balloons to a $600 million project, that's still less than $20 million in local funds.

Don't you think a new subway line is worth 1 home Steelers championship game?

I can go over the Port Authority spiel that this paves the way for future T lines. Or that this will add yet another fringe parking area alleviating traffic and parking woes downtown. Or that this will encourage more development on the North Side which needs some help right about now.

But instead I'll tell you why I think it's not a horrible idea.

When out-of-towners or former Pittsburghers come back to visit in droves, it's for one of two things. The holidays and Steelers games.

Theoretically, we want to give these people a good impression. We want them to think their city is improving. We want them to go back to where they live and say good things about Pittsburgh. We want them to tell their friends, so that when they get a job offer and they're deciding between Houston, Texas and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they remember that they heard Pittsburgh was sweet. They choose Pittsburgh.

How do we impress these people? We give them slick public transportation where they're going to use it. To the Steelers game and to the airport. Assuming this risky bet works, then those people will get up and move here. Then we'll have some money in our pockets and we can do more practical less flashy things like actually get people between Oakland and Downtown.

And all for less than $20 million.

But the most important thing to realize is that this is just a piece of the puzzle. If we actually want a world-class transportation system (which we do, right?), then this is a necessary piece of that puzzle. Might as well build it first if we have the money and it can attract and impress some people. We just can't stop here. I don't care if it takes another 50-100 years. (I have faith that Pittsburgh and this country will still be around then.) But we need to keep building and planning and thinking big and we will get there.


Jermaine said...

Love it! I personally think that some of the "more practical less flashy things" are of a greater immediate importance, but I'd be happy to see any type of extension.

I just hope it doesn't take 50-100 years to make it happen.

Schultz said...

I can't tell if your posts are sarcasm or if you are seriously defending the biggest boondoggle in Pittsburgh's history, so I will refrain from commenting.

Bram Reichbaum said...

One thing I don't get, even if the line can be defended, is why spend all the extra money digging two holes through sludge and putting it under the river.

Jermaine said...

Who knows, who cares. At least they're building it. Maybe they needed it to align with the current system (rather than building a new line) and didn't want to build a new bridge?? I'm sure they have their reasons. I do understand your point Bram and I'm sure digging through "sludge" is expensive, but I'm happy to see an extension of the T in any shape or form.

illyrias said...

Agreed Bram. I'm not a big fan of Port Authority's bloat and inefficiency and general money wasting. I don't trust them to have picked the best plan by any means.

I've got to give DanO one thing - at least he is hard on Port Authority management.

However, I'm not convinced anything in or related to politics is perfect. And while this project may be imperfect, as Jermaine says, at least they're building it. This line will definitely be used for all the reasons that Port Authority states.

I was also pleased to hear DanO say multiple times that the county's next 3 transit goals should be 1) Oakland-Downtown 2) Downtown-Airport and 3) the 28 commuter line

Jermaine said...

What's the 28 commuter line?

Schultz said...

I am glad Oakland to downtown is #1 on his list. The only positive I can see out of the NSC is on days like this, when it is too cold for me to walk the half mile across the bridge, I could take the NSC over. These conditions happen about what, once a year?

Okay, there are two positives. The second is that the route for taking the light rail to the airport is much shorter now, although, they will have to either dig more tunnels, build a bridge, or use an existing rail bridge to cross over the Ohio River. I hope the latter is an option otherwise going to the airport will be many more times the cost of the NSC.

Unknown said...

Actually, to get to the Airport from downtown, they build from the existing network that starts at Station Square -- no additional bridge building needed.

People who are transplants to Pittsburgh tend to be the ones to understand the importance extending our T line is, even if the project had bad decisions along the way. Locals are much harder pressed to get this, which to me speaks of the incredible anti-change attitude Yinzers hold so dear.

I am a native Pittsburgher, but I've lived in other places and know a wonderful light rail system (the T, btw, is light rail) can make the difference between good and bad transportation. I am absolutely for the North Shore Connection, and cannot wait for it to open!

In fact, I think I'll have lunch on the Northside when it does (I work downtown.)