Pittsburgh City Council introduces legislation to create new department focused on transportation

Pittsburgh City Council introduces legislation to create new department focused on transportation

Author: Alanna Koll/Tuesday, February 28, 2017/Categories: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh City Council introduced legislation Tuesday that would officially create the new Department of Mobility of Infrastructure. 

The department, tasked with improving the planning, financing and implementation of transportation projects, is the result of a recommendation by a report with the National Association of City Transportation Officials conducted last year.

With matters of transportation being dealt solely by the Department of City Planning, and with new transportation initiatives being introduced to the city, like self-driving cars and bike shares, Mayor Peduto’s spokesman Tim McNulty said it was time for the city to designate a separate entity to transportation and mobility. 

“It was becoming a little too much for Public Works,” he said. “So that’s why we decided to hire a national expert for these varying initiatives.”

That national expert is Karina Ricks, a former associate director in Washington D.C’s transportation department, brought on by the administration to head the new department. 

Ricks also worked for the transportation consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard Associates, where she led the firm’s multimodal practice, in which she developed integrated, implementable mobility solutions that serve local values and aspirations, according to Mayor Peduto in a statement announcing her arrival. 

“Transportation is changing at top speed, from ride-sharing services to autonomous vehicles, and Pittsburgh is becoming a world leader in such initiatives,” said Peduto. “Karina will help guide us as we embrace our city’s emerging transportation opportunities, and make them accessible to all city residents.”

Although the legislation to establish the new department is still pending and her confirmation date before City Council has yet to be set, Ricks started her first day last Friday, making $103,936 a year. 

“All acting appointees have 90 days before they are confirmed by Council,” said McNulty. “She’s still getting her feet wet and will likely be confirmed before Council by next month.” 

According to the legislation before Council, Ricks duties will include overseeing transportation plans, maps, estimates and reports; supervising transportation projects; partnering with agencies like PennDOT and Port Authority on city transportation planning; overseeing operational costs; and other duties assigned by the Mayor. 

The legislation will be debated before the Committee on Finance and Law on Wednesday, March 8 and could be voted on for final passage as early as Tuesday, March 14.