Fix the bridges, stop the violence: 2022 challenged Pittsburgh to find answers

Revisit PublicSource’s 2022 stories as the city and Allegheny County approach 2023 with a full plate of challenges, and many reasons to cheer.

by TyLisa C. Johnson and Rich Lord, PublicSource

Dig through our 2022 coverage, and you’ll unearth layers of long-buried problems and veins of inspiration. 

From some angles, it was a rocky year, with ongoing pandemics, crumbling infrastructure, tax inequities and creeping threats to our environment. Beneath the crust, however, were gems of hope and glimmers of possibility in the form of solutions. 

Our newsroom reported from the frontlines for many of the biggest news stories of 2022 in Allegheny County. We also uncovered hidden, ignored or underreported structural challenges facing our region. We investigated inadequate responses to campus sexual misconduct. We probed the disparities created and perpetuated by the property tax assessment system. We broke news about threats to privacy as facial recognition technology was being considered at Carnegie Mellon University.  And when violence shook neighborhoods, we focused our lens on causes and solutions. 

Before we ring in a new year, let’s reflect on and share some of our favorite content from the past 12 months. We hope you’ll revisit some of our favorite stories with us.

Is there any quick bridge fix after Fern Hollow’s fall?

Pittsburgh has seen its infrastructure collapse, cave in and catch fire in recent years. When the Fern Hollow Bridge crumbled in January, it captured the attention of a nation. Our team, led by local government reporter Charlie Wolfson, sprung to action as details unfurled, and kept pushing for elusive solutions. Residents shared their perspectives.

A Port Authority bus was on the Fern Hollow Bridge when it collapsed. (Courtesy: Tracy Baton)
A Port Authority bus was on the Fern Hollow Bridge when it collapsed. (Courtesy: Tracy Baton)

We investigated other times Pittsburgh infrastructure raised concerns. We gathered data about every other poorly rated bridge in Allegheny County and told residents why they shouldn’t panic. Forgetting the details? Check out a mini timeline of the Fern Hollow fallout.  We pushed Mayor Ed Gainey’s administration for details on the delayed fixes for Pittsburgh’s other ailing spans.

Roe’s reversal undermines abortion rights and challenges our sense of Selves

When the Supreme Court decided to axe Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion, we recognized it as a historic moment that demanded a comprehensive response. Pittsburgh is one city with many selves — both homegrown and transplants — all of whom deserve to see themselves and their perspectives reflected in Pittsburgh media. In May we created Selves, an art-packed newsletter filled with critically needed journalism on women’s issuesidentityrace and gender. Across more than two dozen editions, we’ve included first-person perspectives, comics and photo essays about abortion, women’s rights and threats to the LGBTQ community — all localized to the Pittsburgh region. For months, we’ve witnessed classroom arguments about classic books and race, increased violence toward queer and trans people and creeping normalization of white supremacy. Selves answers that by providing a space to share and reflect on shifting societal norms and to provoke bold ideas to envision a future for all. If you haven’t already, today would be a great day to sign up.

Faith, Race, Place: Where do Pittsburgh’s spiritual roots lead?

Religion reporter Chris Hedlin noticed many Pittsburgh faith communities in a “period of transformation” and wrestling with a need for change, and she embarked on this project to connect Pittsburgh’s religious past and future. The project walks readers through Pittsburgh’s storied and complex religious past, including the story of Pittsburgh’s earliest Muslims and how house-of-worship-heavy neighborhoods were formed. She explored the impacts of immigration patternsracism, industrialization — even the hills and rivers. How did these influences bring faith communities into being and shape how and where they worship? This reporting is sure to teach you something you didn’t already know.

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