North Shore connector ready to roll

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Beginning March 25, Port Authority Passengers will be able to take a ride under the Allegheny River on PAT’s half-billion dollar North Shore Connector.

The 1.2-mile North Shore Connector, comprised of two tunnels running 20 feet below the river bed, will link a redesigned Gateway Center Station at Liberty Avenue and Stanwix Street, Downtown to two North Side stations, one underground by PNC Park and an elevated Allegheny station between Heinz Field and the Rivers Casino.

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UNDER THE NORTH SIDE—Technicians check the train and centralized platform; allowing passengers to board in both directions, at the new North Side station during a test run of the North Shore Connecter, March 13. (Photos by J.L Martello.)

In addition to its redesign, the Gateway station also features the fully restored Romare Bearden mural that had been removed from the old station prior to construction of the new North Side spur. The ride from Wood Street to the Allegheny station takes nine minutes and will be free for at least three years, as the Steelers and the Casino are underwriting them.

While conducting a test ride for media March 13, Port Authority Rail Operations and Engineering Officers Winston Simmonds highlighted the natural lighting of the new Gateway station, as well as noting the maximum capacity of the trains is about 6,800 people per hour.

When someone suggested that might mean the relatively small platforms at the North Shore stations would be overcrowded after sporting events, Simmonds quipped, “You don’t build the cathedral for Easter Sunday.”

The March 25 opening of the new line also means commuters riding the 14 Ohio Valley and 18 Manchester buses will not go downtown anymore but will stop at the Allegheny station next to Heinz Field. Riders will be able to transfer for free to the rail system.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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