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Martin Luther King Light Rail & Bike Trail
Letters Sent to Edgewood Council

Letters from citizens concerned about the cooperation agreement PAT has offered the borough council of Edgewood. If you are writing a similar letter look here for inspiration.

March 31, 2002
 
Dear Councilman/Councilwoman:
 
We are writing to urge you to vote against the cooperation agreement that the Port Authority has proposed and to work with the citizens of Edgewood and surrounding communities to bring light rail transit and a real bike trail to our area.
This may be one of the most important votes you will ever cast in your capacity as our representative, and we want to do all that we can to support you. 
 
We must confess that as recently as two weeks ago, we were in favor of the busway and most definitely in favor of a stop in Edgewood.  All that changed when we took the time to investigate what PAT is offering and the impact we believe it will have on the eastern suburbs.
 
It is disreputable of the Port Authority to offer us the noise and pollution of 500+ diesel buses a day, a wall that is ugly even without the graffiti that is sure to cover it, and a "bike trail" that is really a sidewalk, especially in light of the fact that they are willing to spend millions of dollars for light rail transit in the South Hills and North Shore.
 
But it is unconscionable for those of us who live, work, and raise our children here to "cooperate" in our own destruction.  It is a fact that diesel fumes are a threat to us all, but especially the elderly, children, and those with respiratory problems (EPA).  It is a fact that where light rail goes, development follows.
And it is apparently a fact that PAT sees us as second-class citizens willing to settle for the bones they throw our way. 
 
We know that the council has grappled with this issue for a long time.  We know that the Port Authority is literally at our door and that you are feeling the pressure.  But you are not standing alone; the number of us willing to demand and work for a better solution is growing every day. It is our right and our responsibility as American citizens living in a democracy to make our voices heard.
 
To that end, we are urging you to reject the proposed cooperation agreement, to vote against putting a stop in Edgewood should the Port Authority proceed without our cooperation, and to join with us as we work to bring light rail transit and a bike trail to our area.
 
David did defeat Goliath, and we can triumph as well, but only if we stand up to the challenge.  Now is the time to do just that.

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March 31, 2002

 

The Honorable Jean Davin, Mayor

The Edgewood Borough Council

 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

We are writing regarding the proposed Agreement of Cooperation between the Port Authority and the Edgewood Borough Council with respect to the proposed extension of the Martin Luther King Jr. Busway.  We believe that the draft Agreement presented at the meeting at the Edgewood Club on March 25, 2002 had two fundamental flaws that must be remedied before the Borough can sign the Agreement:

 

         The Agreement has no provisions establishing environmental standards that must be met by Port Authority operations should the proposed extension of the Busway be put into effect.  Your constituents expressed deep-rooted concerns about increases in noise and air pollution that the proposed extension will bring to our/your community.  These are legitimate concerns over potential levels of high pollution that, if not remedied, will have a deleterious effect on the quality of life and economic well being of all the residents of Edgewood.

 

Regarding the need to establish standards, we enclose an editorial from the New York Times (March 29, 2002) commenting on a recent ruling from the United States Court of Appeals.  After years of arguments, this ruling rejected industry challenges to Environmental Protection Agency regulations that limit the levels of ground-level ozone and the size and volume of particulates in the ambient air.  These are federal regulations to which the Port Authority, like any other entity, must adhere.  Assuming that the Port Authority does not plan to violate any of these guidelines, there is no legitimate reason for them to object to their inclusion in the Agreement.  Finally, to insure compliance, the Agreement must set up procedures for testing by an independent person or firm with full disclosure to the public.

 

         The Agreement has no definitive statement committing the Port Authority to the creation of a light rail transit system on the East Side and in adjoining areas.  We understand that a light rail system was contemplated when the existing Busway system was constructed many years ago; however, that system was never converted, despite the fact that the Port Authority has acknowledged the superiority of light rail many times by its words and actions.  The failure of the Port Authority to honor its previous commitments, coupled with the vague, unenforceable representations in the draft, clearly show that they have no intention of being bound in any way by the Agreement to pursue light rail transit for the eastern corridor.  The Borough would be nave to believe otherwise and not to insist on a firm, explicit commitment to light rail, specific as to scope and timing.

 

Without revising the proposed Agreement of Cooperation to address these issues, it will not reflect the wishes of your constituents, nor will it put any burden on the Port Authority to conform to existing regulations and guidelines with respect to the effects of its actions on the environment.  For these reasons, we urge you to delay taking final action on the proposed Agreement.  In addition, any final draft of the Agreement should be distributed to all residents at least two weeks prior to a hearing and vote.

 

Respectfully,

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March 29, 2002
 
Dear Mr. Councilman,

        I am writing today to urge you to vote against signing the cooperation agreement the Port Authority has presented to our community. The compensation they offer Edgewood in no way makes up for the detrimental environmental impact of the bus highway. I am asking this of you as a neighbor and as a constituent of this very special neighborhood. Please use your voice as an elected official to vote against the Port authority extension of the bus highway. The reasons I, and many other Edgewood residents, think the bus highway extension is the wrong choice for our community are as follows:
 
The soot from one modern diesel bus (2000 model) is equivalent to that produced by 279 cars.   -Union of Concerned Scientists
 
Diesel burning vehicles are among the prime sources of smog inducing pollution, which causes thousands of premature deaths and many more illnesses each year.  - EPA
 
Diesel exhaust contains 41 chemicals that are toxic air contaminants. The health impacts of air toxins vary from pollutant to pollutant, but they are all serious, including cancer risk, immune system disorders, and reproductive problems. It is estimated that diesel causes 70 percent of all airborne cancer risk. - State of California
 
        In his article, The Cancer In the Air We Breathe, David Snyder cited the most recent study and its results, The study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), provides the first definitive link between cancer risk and extended exposure to fine particles of pollution from power plants and diesel engines. (The Washington Post March 19, 2002)
        With all the evidence linking diesel engines with ailments and Port Authoritys intention to retire all 5 compressed natural gas buses this year with no plan to purchase any clean alternatives (PAT 2002), we must take a stance against the busway extension.  Our communities health and quality of life is at risk. Knowing all these factors it is important to turn our attention to the proposed location of the busway and the Edgewood stop. Resting in a 100 yard radius of these proposed elements sits the Edgewood Primary School, The Western Pennsylvania School For The Deaf, The C.C. Mellor Memorial Library, and The Edgewood Club. Each facility houses and educates children from infancy to 20 years of age, with many programs like toddler time at the library and the infancy program at WPSD. According to the EPA young children and infants are at higher risk to complications due to diesel pollution because of their developing lungs.   
        Thank you for your time and I ask you to give my concerns serious consideration. I think we as a community are at a crossroads, and we must act now to not only maintain our quality of life, but insure it for the future. We must say no to the busway, and I ask you to please vote no. I have enclosed articles that review the negative impact on diesel pollutions to aid you in your decision making.
       
        Sincerely,