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North Shore Connector

Light rail extension provides new transit service for Pittsburgh.
  • North Shore Connector-Gannett Fleming

    The North Shore Connector emerges from an underground tunnel onto a 1,800-foot-long, 14-span aerial structure that supports a double crossover and station platform.

Port Authority of Allegheny County


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Our Role
Preliminary and Final Design, Site Survey, Signal System Design, Train Control System Design, Communications System Design, Traction Power System Design, Track Design, Construction Management.

1.2 miles
New Construction
  • The line accommodates 29,000 riders each weekday, connecting the city to the emerging North Shore area and recreational attractions.

The North Shore Connector, a new 1.2-mile light rail line, connects the downtown business district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the city’s North Shore, home of the Steelers and Pirates stadiums, four large museums, as well as business and industry.

What We Did

As rail systems lead, Gannett Fleming provided consulting engineering services for the Port Authority of Allegheny County for the design of a signal and train control system, communications system, traction-power system, and track design for a rail-transit connector project. The tripper-based wayside signaling system consists of multiple signaling subsystems including:

  • Vital microprocessor interlocking control
  • Non-vital microprocessor code system
  • Operation control center modifications
  • New train stops, wayside signals, and switch machines
  • New train-to-wayside communications.

The signal system design and block layout provided potential for an operating headway of two minutes on the North Shore Connector portion of the central business district light rail system, and a 15-minute operating headway on the Convention Center Shuttle portion of the project.  The signal design included a new tripper-based wayside signaling system for the entire project area, including the subsurface tunnel and at-grade and elevated sections of the project. The signal design also included modifications to Gateway Interlocking, the existing terminus of the line in the central business district, a new train control room to house new signaling equipment at North Shore Station, and a new signalized interlocking at Allegheny Station, the new terminus of the line on the North Shore.  

The Convention Center Shuttle portion of the project included modifications to the existing Midtown Interlocking, as well as a new signalized interlocking at Convention Center Station, the terminus of the Convention Center Shuttle. The project also included track and signal modifications to Wood Street Interlocking to allow for turn-back operations during the tunnel construction. 

Additional tasks included a site survey and data collection, preliminary through final design, engineer's estimates of construction costs, and interface design between construction contracts.

Key Features

  • SONET optical carrier (OC)-12 network implementation
  • Compatibility with existing communication systems
  • Simulcast radio system
  • Emergency power backup.

Awards & Recognition

  • Civil Engineering Achievement Award, 2012, American Society of Civil Engineers Pittsburgh Section, Annual Awards
  • Transportation Project of the Year Award, 2012, Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania, Annual Awards of Distinction.

Similar Projects: Engineering, Transportation: Transit & Rail, Transit & Rail: Transit & Rail Systems, Transportation, Engineering: Transportation