Hillwood lied about the number of vehicles required to support this facility and based all it studies on those incorrect traffic numbers.

You will have 3 to 4 times more vehicles than Hillwood admits for their proposal.  How is that so?

Read below completely to the conclusion, and think about what is, not what was said.

I am astounded that the planning commission, which spent so much time on the minutia, failed to question the underlying numbers presented by Hillwood in justifying the proposal.  Even more so in the acquiescence of Gateway to working with their numbers and not the reality of the massive structure being proposed.

There are NO Amazon distribution centers in the middle of a residential community.  NONE  The application should never have even been considered; it is so inappropriate.  See the examples at the very end of this article.

Everything I stated in the original letter in January when Hillwood failed to provide so many critical details, as it attempted to bulldoze through the larger facility, all those statements and analysis turned out to be accurate.  Reread it if you have any doubt.

And if Amazon has additional data to contradict or put into perspective anything I state, please send it to me and I can update the conclusions.  We want to consider only what is true and verified in coming to conclusions.

And I can defend anything that I state against anyone who thinks they are not accurate.  But you better do your homework.

Hillwood consistently lied, exaggerated, and misled everyone at Churchill about the scope of this project. Even on the data presented to the July planning commission.  Not surprising, today we still do not have a single drawing of the current generation 9 or generation 10 (each improvement of a distribution center is called a generation number by Amazon) when they are building at least 6 exactly the same designed facilities around the country. Not one in a residential area.

For Example;  The same building north of Davenport on a flat farm announced May 3, 2021, on the east side of Eastern Iowa Industrial Center.  Not a residential neighborhood.  Go back to the original letter and subsequent blogs for hundreds of links showing distribution centers from Seattle to Baltimore.

So, you must accept the 100-foot height (Even though they demanded 125 on the conditional use).  Hillwood call it 4 ½ levels, but it is actually 5 levels.  5 levels on average with 20-foot-high ceilings.  In reality each will be different heights for automation purposes, but the total is still at least 100 feet high.

That provides 2.9 million square feet of floor space, regardless of each floor’s height.  Since this is the latest  building design for final sort automation, you can appreciate that Amazon can stock its warehouses with twice, yes twice, the number of bins and products than any other company in the world.  This is partially due to aisles for robots and not for humans or for lift trucks, as well as the ability to vertically stack mobile racks using the Kiva robots.  Yet they know where every single item is at any moment.  That is incredible AI programming. Hats off to Amazon in designing such a facility. It is incredibly efficient.

In the chain of distribution the Hillwood building is the final sort before products go to the last mile delivery station.  Two thirds coming in will already be boxed.  1/3 will be items to be combined.  All items are the small size of the original UPS shipments so that an automatic sort system can collect them by delivery zones and then move through the warehouse as a consolidated batch prior to loading.

Also pay attention that Amazon now has almost everyone with Prime and getting 2-day delivery.  Since the products came from a previous sort center, mostly ready for delivery, 1 of those 2 days is already lost.  And this is important: every box coming in, assuming it is not part of the limited inventory also on site, will have lost one transit day and needs to be delivered withing one day.  We can assume that at least 50% of all inbound packages will be shipped outbound within 24 hours.

Think about that. 1.5 million square feet of floor space, 20 feet high, with twice the density of any other distribution center, is turning over total stock every 24 hours.

So how many trucks, and what kind of trucks, are needed to support this structure.  Understand, the purpose of the facility is to group products by delivery zones (that same incredible AI controlled process) to enable the flex drivers to bid on delivery to that zone and have only packages for that zone loaded into their vehicles.

There are 49 docks.  Amazon logistics has independent drivers, just like Uber, bidding on carrying Amazon filled trailers to specific locations.  It has specific instruction that require 24-hour delivery at very specific times in order to maximize loading and unloading at each dock.

Timing is critical.  Compare it to flying.  You arrive 30 minutes early on your destination but have to wait on the tarmac because the plane at the gates has not yet pulled out.

The driver who arrives early, must idle somewhere until his time slot opens. He cannot enter the premises.  So where will he park until his time arrives?

IF he is late and misses his time slot, for any reason, he has just 3 chances to reschedule, depending on openings, or he is refused.  It is then likely he will be eliminated from carrying any more Amazon products.

Amazon runs the most tightly controlled and efficient material handling system in the world. Period.

They are fixated with “Time on Task”.  No inefficiencies allowed by anyone anywhere.  That has been well documented in the 12 books and hundreds of trade publication articles and reports published on the Amazon Future web site.  And yes, I have read most, including the latest book by Stone that is not yet listed there.

Amazon software schedules time at the dock so that there is no dead time.  Drivers enter the yard, some exceptions, drop the trailer, and leave the premises.  The discussion last night about the Corral is absolutely necessary but is way too small for the number of cabs that will actually be needed at this site.  I was surprised and delighted that it was at least discussed at the meeting.

Once the trailer is dropped in a designate holding spot, the local jockey will tow it to the loading dock.

Finished boxes have traditionally been hand loaded to maximize density use within the trailers, but Amazon is now developing a completely automated loading and unloading system to eliminate that slow human effort.

In 2020 there were over 13,000 truck drivers pulling Amazon trailers. Amazon sets rates and does not negotiate, so drivers earn minimum compensation, somewhat like Uber drivers.  Therefore, they regularly cut corners to save money.  The Amazon Relay app that controls the drivers work has almost the same level of turnover as Amazon does inside the distribution centers.  Just how safe are these drivers on the roads?

Trucks arriving, not here, but at other facilities, that have pallets must be unloaded in 20 minutes so that they can serve at least 2 per hour.  We do not know if this Churchill facility will have automated box loading unloading infrastructure but considering that it is the very latest design by Amazon, that is likely.

Especially consider that a building with this much floor space, the work force would be expected to exceed 3000 people, and yet they plan for just 500 per shift.  That will give you a good idea as to the level of automation at future Amazon distribution centers.

Jockeys then pull that trailer away.  If it belongs to the driver, he is called to retrieve it.  It is also possible that it is reloaded for that driver, but here at this facility supporting last mile delivery centers that is not likely.  The driver will be called and the take that empty trailer back to whatever Amazon facility the AI program selects so that the driver can collect a new load.  One cannot but admire the beauty of the Amazon logistics system for speed and efficiency.

Now let’s think about where all that merchandise from 1.4 million square feet of warehouse space, with 20 high ceilings, that has to be shipped out withing 24 hours, will actually be going.

We have so far only identified two such locations in east Pittsburgh, the old shopping center in North Versailles, and the old Sears building in Lawrenceville.  Based on other parts of the country, there will be 5 to 7 such facilities supported from the Churchill mega center.  That will give Amazon solid east Pittsburgh coverage.

Short review.  To fill this warehouse, we can expect 25 of the 49 docks to be receiving goods every day.  If one truck per hour, that is 600 deliveries, and 600 empty pickups, or about 1200 semi trucks coming in, and then going out over a given 24 hour period.  More if they must leave the property, wait at a truck stop (where are the closes ones?) and have to come back in again.  Much of this traffic can be eliminated if the corral is large enough, but the drawings submitted do not show a corral of the needed size at this time (What do you mean the corral is full and I have to leave?)

Since what comes in must go out immediately?  Answer, the stock from those 600 unloaded trucks, assuming the warehouse has full capacity,

Amazon stated last night that it would not be delivering the final miles by semi through Turtle Creek but would be taking the circuitous route through Monroeville.  (Is Monroeville aware of this new traffic demand on its roads?)

Let’s think about it.  In an 8-hour day, that means the Amazon driver will spend about 3 hours in additional driving time.  Those last mile delivery trucks will be running back and forth nonstop, as fast as they can be loaded and unloaded.  Remember, the goal is 2-hour delivery.

To be conservative, we can say just 2 hours per day is lost to this circuitous route.  Does anyone really think Amazon will allow a single delivery to be 2 hours Off Task, multiplied by many trucks per day, 365 days of the year?

No, they will do what all truckers do in urban environments. They will ship via 28-foot delivery trucks so that they can use the shortest possible route, even through residential neighborhoods.  Just like every other LTL trucker.  That will allow them to take the shortest route south through Turtle Creek to North Versailles.

It will also allow them to speed delivery north on Beulah, up and over the sloped light at Frankstown, down to Allegheny Boulevard to Lawrenceville.  The same will work to additional last mile facilities as they come on-line.  If you have ever driven these routes, you know the bottlenecks that will result when traffic is increased by 30 or 40%.

What this means is that for every 53-foot semi coming in with stock to the Churchill facility, there will be two, yes 2, 28-foot delivery trucks leaving the property.  That is another 1200 vehicles.

If you have up to 1500 workers, reduced to 1000 for   based on Hillwood comments last night, you have at least 900 vehicles of employees coming and 900 going out every 24 hours over the 3 shifts.  FYI: the average Amazon distribution center is 800,000 sf of floor space and 1500 full time employees to pick, pack, and ship.  So one can appreciate scope and automation of the Churchill facility with 2.9 million sf and just 1000 full time employees.

Add up the 18-wheelers, and then the 28-foot delivery trucks, and finally the employees, you have 3 to 4 times the number of vehicles utilizing the surrounding streets than the numbers submitted by Hillwood allow for.  You can be sure the traffic congestion and deterioration of the roadways will suddenly become health and safety concerns for Churchill Borough, as well as the surrounding municipalities. This risk should be addressed now and not later when it is too late.

And remember, the goal is 2-hour delivery for everything, not 2 days, so everything will be stepped up.  How has any of this been accounted for?

All this leads to the traffic projections in the Hillwood numbers.  It is from those numbers that all the reports are based.  If those base numbers are underrepresented by 3 or 4 times, every one of the reports is underrepresented by 3 or 4 times.  There will be consequences.

So, if the base numbers are wrong, the conclusions of Gateway are wrong.  Decisions were made with deceptive information.  Yes, this blog is a simplified explanation, but the basics are absolutely spot on.


This project is detrimental to public health and safety of Churchill and should be rejected in totality.  It is not appropriate for the location, and Hillwood knows it is not appropriate.  That is why they engaged in deliberate obfuscation of relevant details, submitted inaccurate and distorted information, and continue to use the might of Amazon to force through the project against the united opposition of the majority of residents.  Council must list all the reasons the concerned citizens have accumulated to say NO to Hillwood and the Amazon distribution center.  That is my opinion.  Look at the photo below and find your own if you are not yet convinced.

Murray Bilby

2424 Churchill Road




5 level warehouse

5 levels is really high:  Amazon’s 3.6 million-square-foot mountain center. Juliet, Tennessee, similar to the Hillwood November proposal.

warehouse amazon

Notice how the central part reflects the distorted PowerPoint last night alluding to, without commitment, to an aesthetically designed building, when in fact it only applied to a single section.  The rest of the building is the box they danced around.

The Hillwood-Sterling Group joint venture is behind Amazon’s 3.8 million-square-foot distribution center on the site of the Michigan State Fairgrounds north of central Detroit. $ 400 million in assets One of the five under development in Metro..


Another example of a distorted Amazon presentation showing just the center section with the rest of the building a gigantic box.    suburbs of Austin, Pflugerville, Texas.  Very similar to what Hillwood proposes.  Same as the previous building, do you see it.

Much of the day-to-day work is performed by robotic systems within a range of approximately 3 million square feet from the mezzanine floor, creating an estimated 1,.000 jobs in 10 years