July 18: New demolition signage | Local radar guns | Trolley portal redesign | Driverless Cars and Sprawl | PA’s low energy bills

The Nutter administration revealed new signage requirements for demolition and construction sites, as a safety initiative in response to last summer’s building collapse: “For buildings three stories or higher, contractors must pay for a 3-by-5-foot sign showing a copy of the permit, a rendering of the project, its expected completion date, contact information for the owner and contractor, and instructions for reaching the city.”

Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that prohibits local police from using radar guns to catch speeding drivers. A bill currently before the state legislature, which is supported by a “Radar Coalition” of mayors, local elected officials, and local police organizations, would change that, and split the revenue from tickets 50/50 with state government.

Toyota’s senior scientist for its North American team thinks driverless cars will rev up suburban sprawl because reducing the inconvenience of travel will enable people to live much further away from work. The Eno Center for Transportation offers a different view, noting that driverless cars would make shared vehicles more convenient. Their 
“Preparing a Nation for Autonomous Vehicles” report estimated that a single shared vehicle could replace between 9 and 13 private cars without sacrificing mobility. 

The Keystone Crossroads project – a joint reporting project between several Pennsylvania public radio stations examining the common problems of Pennsylvania’s older cities –  held its first community forum Wednesday night, moderated by the Penn Project for Civic EngagementChris Satullo’s report on the forum presents this challenge to all of us in local media: “They said journalists do a much worse job of exploring root causes, breaking down complex topics, and explaining to the public how they can take effective steps to make matters better.”

The trolley portal at 40th and Baltimore Avenue, identified as a key gateway by University City District’s Gateway Project where routes 11, 13, 34 and 36 converge, is still in line for a redesign. “Other design features on the Apron such as meadow like mounds with plants will “buffer the sound of the trolleys too,” Prema Gupta, UCD’s director of planning and economic development, explained, adding, the mounds will help with storm-run off. And “there will be seating in the apron to watch the trolleys come and go.”

A report by WalletHub compared average monthly energy bills in different states and found that Pennsylvania has the 7th lowest energy costs in the U.S. Average monthly electrical bills were $109, natural gas bills were $68, and monthly fuel costs were $140. Our fuel costs were fourth lowest in the nation.

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