P-G to Planning Commission: Do Something

Oh, inscrutable P-G editorial board. What are you getting at, exactly?

The citizens of Pittsburgh are in no position to judge the validity of a traffic study on the impact of the Majestic Star casino. But the sharp minds on the city planning commission are.

The Steelers are forecasting nightmare traffic scenarios. PITG and some of its allies disagree.

The editorial urges the planning commission to “take the time they need” — but what does that mean? Ordering Don Barden & Co. back to the drawing board, for a more comprehensive traffic study?

Say they do that. And let’s say, instead of another measured conclusion that’s easy to interpret either way, the answer actually comes back, “Yeah, it’s going to suck, bad!” What next?

The state awarded this casino the license, in significant measure, because it was deemed the least problematic in terms of traffic. This assesment was close to indisputable.

Are we going to tell Mr. Barden that unless his outfit arranges for massive new roads and bridges, he can hit the road? Are we going to tell Pittsburghers that we can’t give them a casino after all?

Of course not. But the real danger is, if we coerce Mr. Barden through more delays and studies, he will be less inclined to cooperate on other serious issues: not just the Science Center, but redevelopment strategies throughout the western North Side, and the Hill District.

And for what? The Steelers Nation will find a way to pack Heinz Field, even if it has to privateer teams of horses. And on the return trip, there is every reason to suspect a casino will ease traffic concerns; more football fans will elect to stick around the North Side for another hour or three.

We suspect the Steelers are really worried about the impact on certain “luminaries” who will have just touched down at Pittsburgh International Airport. A 90-minute limo ride, and missing the first quarter, would spoil their buzz, and perhaps ruin their perceptions of our most livable city.

We sympathize. We promise to meditate on it. Maybe a Black n’ Gold HeliTaxi of some kind?

But at any rate; let’s not irritate a great new civic partner for no good reason. Like the P-G, we also trust the Planning Commission; in this case, we trust it will focus on issues that truly merit attention, and are a bit less high-profile.

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