Connecting Communities One Step At A Time

Pennsylvania Stories

Mayor Peduto of Pittsburgh has charged his team with creating the largest contiguous complete streets grid in North America. Traffic 21, a multi-disciplinary research effort of Carnegie Mellon, provides important safe streets technology to the local government. In addition, a joint collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh, the city, and the county is striving to make transportation-related data more available and researchable for the public.  This has been seen to increase efficiencies and spur private investments like local apps and services (a well-suited challenge for the diverse and talented CMU students).

Historically steel-based, Pittsburgh’s economy is now driven by ‘meds and eds’, which provide nearly 80% of the city’s employment. Improved relationships between various university police forces and the city have helped to keep university students and faculty safe in the environs of a large metropolis. Students have worked together with the Carnegie Mellon police department to create a number of popular technological projects, including one that allows students to locate the nearest bus at any point on campus and in the surrounding area.

In 2013, Mayor-elect Peduto asked President Obama if the city could receive the scaffolding used during the repair of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. Pittsburgh marks the start of the beautiful Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), which was fully completed in 2013 and connects to the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal in Cumberland, Maryland. Mayor Peduto envisions the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal trails starting and ending at like-monuments, as the scaffolding is itself a viable structure. 

Maryland Stories

Cumberland, Maryland was built for approximately 40,000 residents at the turn of the 20th century, making it the most populated Maryland city behind Baltimore. The ‘Queen City’ was an important manufacturing town, a hub for key rail lines, and the starting point of the C&O Canal. With the creation of major interstate highways bypassing the city, the population decreased to only half of its carrying capacity, leaving vacant lots in the beautiful downtown. ‘Community Legacy’ funds from the state have been used to redo the upper levels in a number of downtown buildings, with a focus on attracting a vibrant artist community. The city’s location makes it an ideal recreation stopping/starting point, but the local government continues to seek out ways to attract sustained investors and new businesses. 

New Allegheny High School is being built to accommodate the 700 high school-aged students on the old hospital grounds, with 97% of funding coming from the state and 3% from local sources. The Center for Career and Technical Education offers open enrollment for juniors and seniors and has 18 skill areas. Approximately 50% of students go into local higher education programs.

Garrett County offers a popular 5-night outdoor school for 5th grade students, which is a fantastic way for youngsters to learn more about the natural world though spending a week out in it.  They also have a Chinese (Mandarin) immersion program available to anyone in grades K-5.  Students are taught language and culture by native teachers, with half of the classes taught in English and half in Chinese. Plans are being developed for the final year students to visit China. 

We ended our run in Washington, D.C. on November 30, 2014.  We continued to meet with our representatives in Washington, D.C. from Oregon and Virginia – our home states.  This opportunity to reach out to, learn from, and share success stories with communities across the United States was truly the opportunity of a lifetime.  We wish to express our most heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this initiative and journey possible.  What we learned will continue to drive our energy and focus for the rest of our lives.  Thank you.