Just two months after the South Fayette Township Board of Commissioners approved plans for Uber Advanced Technologies Group to establish a test track for autonomous vehicles at a defunct private airport in South Fayette Township, the company has decided to look elsewhere.
Andrea Iglar, communications director for the township, said they were informed by the owner of the property that Uber had eliminated the site from the list of locations it is considering in the Pittsburgh region for a test track. Apparently the site’s terrain was among the reasons Uber scratched it off its list.
Sarah Abboud, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the South Fayette site “does not meet our spatial needs for future testing.”
The ridesharing company has an office in Pittsburgh’s Strip District and a test track in Hazelwood. The company’s lease on that track will end in 2023. A statement from Uber said, “As our Pittsburgh footprint continues to grow, so does our spatial needs for testing, which is why we are exploring available properties within the greater Pittsburgh area.”
Abboud said Uber is considering setting up a test track in Findlay Township, also the home of Pittsburgh International Airport.
South Fayette’s board of commissioners approved the plans for the test track at its Sept. 11 meeting. It would have been located at the old Campbell Airport on Millers Run Road. The airport, which has been mothballed since the mid-1990s, had a single runway and was a takeoff and landing strip for the owners of small airplanes.
If Uber had settled on the site, it would have featured traffic signals, the facades of buildings, fake trees and other cityscape elements, and would have employed about 200 people.
“We knew from the start they were going through the (approval) process in multiple locations,” Iglar said.
While South Fayette officials are disappointed that Uber is not going to set up shop in the township, they are optimistic the airport site will prove attractive to another suitor, particularly as the Southern Beltway nears completion, according to Iglar.
“It would have been a great project,” she said.