Images from stakeholders meeting held in May 2019 courtesy of DOMI.

Imagine Pittsburgh in 2070 — with 150,000 more people. (And you thought it was tough getting through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel now.)

That number may sound surprising, but it could happen. We once had a peak population of 677,000 people, more than double our current total.

With population growth in the forecast for Pittsburgh after many years of decline, the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) is hoping to be ready to smoothly move all of those people where they want to go.

The 2070 Transportation Vision Plan, released this week, challenges the public to look a half-century into the future and envision the transportation needs of a city of 450,000 people. (Currently, we’re at just over 300,000).

This could involve older ideas, like reviving streetcar lines where they once used to be and even adding new inclines. Or it could mean pursuing bold new ideas, like aerial trams that transport passengers on cables high above Pittsburgh’s rivers, hills and valleys. There will likely be an emphasis on biking and walking, as well.

Graphic courtesy of DOMI.

One major question: How does the changing face of various neighborhoods impact their mobility needs? Tech growth in East Liberty is turning that neighborhood into a major job center, which means a growing population commutes to work there. At the same time, the Strip District has long been a job center and continues to be, but now it’s becoming a place where people also want to live — meaning more pedestrians and bicycles, among other things.

How can all of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods be most effectively connected to the city’s transportation system?

“PGH MOBILITY 2070 will create a framework to guide investment, development and management in a complete and connected network of infrastructure, information and services capable of supporting a fully revitalized Pittsburgh,” said Dara Braitman, principal planner at DOMI, in an email to NEXTpittsburgh.

“The effort will also result in a tactical and strategic near-term (two-year) action agenda to direct the activities and investments of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure and partners in making continuous incremental progress toward the long-range vision.”

You can share your input here or let DOMI come to you: Throughout the summer and fall, DOMI staff will visit various neighborhoods throughout the city — popping up at farmers’ markets, block parties, yard sales and other public events to solicit public input for the plan.

They’ll be asking things like what in the existing transportation network do you think works and what doesn’t, and how can that be improved? Also, what connections between and among neighborhoods should they focus on, and what neighborhoods are currently hard to access?

You can also email your suggestions to MOBILITY2070@pittsburghpa.gov.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife,...