Hancock County

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Special Assignment: Driving for the job

Updated: Saturday, November 16 2013, 11:12 AM EST

By: Adam Del Rosso

It's a trend that continues to grow across the area -- people who live in the Valley, but commute out of state to the Pittsburgh Metro area for work.

Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show over 3,000 Hancock County residents travel to Pennsylvania for work with over 2,000 Brooke County residents doing the same.

"We noticed people parking on Harmon Creek Road in different areas along there. Some were just parking on the road; some were parking actually on private property over there," said Mike Paprocki with the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission.

The fix was a permanent park and ride lot that just opened up in October that hosts about two dozen spots. That lot is now filled with cars whose drivers share their ride with the help of companies like Commute Info.

"We've probably seen about a 40 percent increase in that. About 240 people are signed up. Before we started the program, it was about 160," Paprocki said.

Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, said a lot of the jobs in Pennsylvania are in the service industry; not necessarily manufacturing or steel-related, despite the 15,000 jobs lost by the closing or reduction of local mills.

"I think our workers are more reliable and they are more dependable," he said.

But why not just move? Those I talked to had a number of reasons.

"Obviously, (it's) the taxes. It's a little more expensive to live there. And also my kids already being here and being in school for so long, I really don't want to move them up there," said Erin Thomas.

A quick comparison of the numbers shows real estate taxes are about double in the city of Pittsburgh versus Weirton, where they come to about $700 each year on a $75,000 home.

"Low crime rate, good schools, easy commute patterns. I would argue that I would want to reside in a place like the Northern Panhandle as well," Ford added.

This trend isn't only happening in the Weirton area. Park and rides are also popping up along Route 7 in Ohio and officials tell NEWS9 it doesn't look to slow down anytime soon.

Special Assignment: Driving for the job

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