By John Shumway

PITTSBURH (KDKA) — The mural has been restored to the wall of the new Gateway ‘T’ station, the station is virtually finished, the test runs have found very few problems and the much maligned North Shore Connector project is about to come to an end.

Two weeks from now, years of construction will be a memory and the light rail operations will be underway.

The project is already 99 percent complete and is expected to come in at about $517 million or about $6 million under the current $523 million budget.

Port Authority Rail Operations Director Winston Simmonds says the operation of the North Shore Connector is going to substantially change parking in Pittsburgh.

Daily commuters will have the option of $6 and $7 parking on the North Shore and a free ride on the ‘T’ into downtown.

That is expected to draw drivers out of more expensive downtown parking garages and open more parking for shoppers and daily business.

The connector is actually an extension of the existing T system past Gateway center to the Allegheny Station between Heinz Field and the Rivers Casino.

Leaving Gateway Center, you will be riding downward under the Allegheny River with a depth of 30 feet of dirt above the foot thick concrete of the tunnel, and 26 feet of river water on top of that.

The North Side ‘T’ station is located under the General Robinson Parking Garage, with the Allegheny Station being elevated above Allegheny Avenue on the North Side.

Rail operations will begin Sunday, March 25th and will be free from the Allegheny Station to the First Avenue Station due to underwriting by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Rivers Casino.

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