The interior of a rail maintenance facility featuring two parallel tracks with light rail vehicles on each.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit South Hills Village Rail Center Design

Our Client’s Challenge

Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT), formerly the Port Authority of Allegheny County, provides public transportation to Pittsburgh and throughout Allegheny County. A vital element of this service is provided using light rail vehicles (LRV) in the South Hills, Central Business District, and North Side areas.

South Hills Village Rail Center (SHVRC), constructed in the mid-1980s, provides service and maintenance to the LRV fleet. Many years of facility use and wear, particularly in the maintenance pits, resulted in significant deterioration and required a complete facility rehabilitation for safe, continued LRV fleet maintenance.

Our Solution

Gannett Fleming provided rail center design for extensive rehabilitation of the SHVRC, which included work on the maintenance pits, approach aprons, and wash bays. Specific tasks included:

  • Replacing 4,000 lineal feet of light rail line, both embedded and aerially supported.
  • Full demolition and reconstruction of three cast-in-place concrete maintenance pits.
  • Removing existing floor coating and installing 70,000 square feet of epoxy floor coating.
  • Replacing 2,100 lineal feet of elevated rail supports.
  • Patching of 6,000 square feet of concrete spall.
  • Installing 400 lineal feet of surface trench drains at the building aprons.
  • Completely replacing and upgrading the pit lighting in all bays.

Additionally, the safety emergency stop system that cuts electrical service to the pantograph on the LRVs underwent a complete re-design and replacement, incorporating additional stop buttons and a digital screen to show the location where an emergency stop is activated within the facility. As a result, facility safety was enhanced by allowing power shutdowns at more locations, regardless of a person’s location in the maintenance area.

The existing elevated and embedded rail was replaced throughout the garage. The rail was reconstructed to within acceptable industry tolerances, which improved vertical and horizontal alignments. Benefits include:

  • Reduced rail maintenance.
  • Improved car mobility throughout the shop.
  • More precise rail car maintenance functionality, especially in the car leveling areas.

By upgrading these leveling areas, precise rail car adjustments can be implemented, which improves the overall car performance with direct benefits to the riders. Leveling improves ride quality and is critical to ensure proper height and alignment at high-platform stations to meet ADA criteria.

The PRT team continued maintenance operations throughout construction by strategically organizing the project into six construction phases over 17 months. Of the facility’s 10 bays, up to four bays were partially and/or fully decommissioned in each phase, allowing for facility restoration and ongoing LRV maintenance operations throughout construction.

Key Features

  • New LED lighting in all maintenance pits.
  • New facility drainage at the shop entrance aprons.
  • New shop floor coating.
  • Higher capacity steel pit walkways.


  • Facility completed on schedule in just 17 months and more than $521,000 (4.7%) under budget.
  • Modern design.
  • Upgraded operational and safety standards.
  • Improved lighting.
  • Minimized future maintenance.
  • Increased accessibility for forklifts and other maintenance equipment.
  • Improved drainage.

Awards & Recognition

  • ENR MidAtlantic, 2022, Award of Merit for Best Project (Airport/Transit) and Best Project – Excellence in Safety


Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT)


Pittsburgh, Pa.



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