Federal funding changes concern Pittsburgh public transit officials

Federal funding changes concern Pittsburgh public transit officials

The leader of Pittsburgh's Port Authority took a trip to Capitol Hill on Monday.

The Port Authority is concerned about keeping federal funding for critical public transportation needs.

Related: Guide to Pittsburgh's public transportation system

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Proposed cuts in Washington could have a big impact there, and could affect a project that's ready to begin.

"We are looking to make sure those federal dollars are available when it's time to go forward with this project," said Katherine Kelleman, Port Authority CEO.

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She joined public transit leaders nationwide to reject the Trump administration's budget, which would make deep cuts to federal funding for transit projects.

The cuts would block nearly $100 million from the federal government for the Bus Rapid Transit project, which would connect downtown and Oakland through separate lanes for electric buses.

"The BRT program is a major component for the growth of Pittsburgh," Kelleman said. "We can do it faster if we can get this federal investment to come back home."

"Any proposal that would eliminate, not cut, eliminate the entire program would be opposed by state and local governments across the country," said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

City and county leaders both said the project will move forward with or without federal help.

Plans call for the project to be complete by 2021.

There won't be an immediate effect on bus service in Pittsburgh since the federal government is generally only involved in helping fund major public transit projects.

But if President Trump's budget is approved, local leaders would be forced to come up with nearly $100 million to get the Bus Rapid Transit system in place.