Allegheny County officials selected the longest bus rapid transit route to pursue, the Port Authority of Allegheny County announced Wednesday.
The route would connect Downtown with Oakland, East Liberty, Homewood and Wilkinsburg via dedicated bus lanes on Forbes and Fifth avenues.
The chosen route also includes branches through Shadyside, East Liberty and Highland Park. The branches would not have dedicated lanes but would allow BRT buses to get through traffic lights before regular traffic.
Officials estimate the capital cost will be $233 million, mostly to build transit stations and buy buses.
The plan is for half of the cost to be covered by federal grants and the other half to come from state and local funds, said Jim Ritchie, a Port Authority spokesman.
The Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts grant program is among the funding options, Ritchie said.
Small Starts falls under the highly competitive federal Capital Investment Grant program. Projects must go through a multi-year, multi-step process to be eligible for funds, Steven Taubenkibel, an FTA spokesman, has said.
The authority plans to perform environmental and engineering work over the summer and submit the project for federal funding in the fall, the release said.
The goal is to connect Downtown and Oakland with a high-speed mass transit system, since the two are not served by the authority’s light-rail system.
The route would connect more than 30,000 people across 24 neighborhoods, the release said.
Officials said they hope the system will be under construction within the next 16 months and operational by 2021.
The authority received more than 2,500 public comments on the project in March and April, the release said.
Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, [email protected] or Twitter @tclift.