Port Authority plans extra service for this weekend's major crowds


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It's likely to be Pittsburgh's hottest weekend of the summer, and not only because the temperature will continue to climb into the 90s.

A Kenny Chesney-Tim McGraw concert at Heinz Field and the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta will bring throngs Downtown and to the North Shore. Getting around will be a challenge, by land and by water.

The 4:30 p.m. concert on Saturday will draw the biggest stadium crowd since the Port Authority opened the North Shore Connector, which serves new stations near the football stadium and PNC Park, and the agency is planning extra rail service. For its part, the regatta, in its 35th year, bills itself as the largest summertime event in the Tri-State area.

Because of the expected crowds, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is taking a breather from the construction on Downtown ramps and connectors that has tied up traffic on previous weekends.

It will, however, close the ramps connecting Interstate 579-Crosstown Boulevard and the Liberty Bridge, and southbound traffic on the Veterans Bridge will be limited to one lane. The restrictions will be in effect from 8 p.m. today to 6 a.m. Monday.

To reach the Liberty Bridge, southbound traffic will be detoured via the off-ramp to Sixth and Seventh avenues, Ross Street, First Avenue and Grant Street to the Boulevard of the Allies ramp to the bridge. Bridge-bound traffic on Bigelow Boulevard should bypass the Crosstown and join the detour route at Ross Street.

Northbound Liberty Bridge traffic should bypass the closed ramp to the Crosstown, turn right at Forbes Avenue, left at Chatham Square, continue on Washington Place and turn right on Bigelow to the northbound I-579 ramp.

The ramp from Crosstown Boulevard to the eastbound Boulevard of the Allies and Parkway East will remain open (but is scheduled for a long-term closure starting July 16).

Concertgoers and regatta fans won't need to worry about warm clothing. The National Weather Service is forecasting highs in the low 90s both days, a bit shy of the record of 96 for Saturday and 98 for Sunday.

The hot, dry conditions prompted the weather service to put much of Ohio under a red flag warning on Thursday, which means that strong winds, low humidity and high heat could create "explosive fire growth potential."

Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said Light Rail Transit will operate every 10 minutes between Station Square and the new Allegheny Station at Heinz Field starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Extra two-car trains will be added before the concert and at its conclusion, and off-board fare booths at major stops will be staffed.

Authority supervisors will work with Heinz Field security and police to maintain order at Allegheny Station as the crowd departs. Even with extra service, lines are likely to form outside the station.

"We're asking for a little patience with the crowd size we're anticipating," Mr. Ritchie said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and regatta organizers have issued restrictions for private boats that will be enforced from Sunday through Independence Day and warned that docking or moving in prohibited areas can lead to fines of up to $40,000. Details can be found at www.threeriversregatta.net by clicking on river restrictions.

The Army Corps of Engineers will extend service hours at Locks 2, 3 and 4 on the Allegheny River on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday beyond the regular midnight closure. The last lockage will be at 1:15 a.m. each of those days. More details are available at www.lrp.usace.army.mil.

The City of Pittsburgh will keep four senior centers open until 7 p.m. today through Sunday to serve as cooling stations for older people.

The cooling centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They are the Greenfield Healthy Active Living Center, 745 Greenfield Ave.; Homewood Healthy Active Living Center, 7321 Frankstown Ave; Market House Healthy Active Living Center, 12th and Bingham streets; and Sheraden Healthy Active Living Center, 720 Sherwood Ave.

neigh_city - Transportation

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic. First Published June 29, 2012 4:30 AM


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