The Fort Pitt Tunnel reopened at 4 a.m. today -- two hours earlier than anticipated -- and in plenty of time for revelers headed to the St. Patrick's Day parade Downtown.
Emergency repairs to the ceiling of the tunnel created traffic nightmares for drivers heading into the city starting Friday afternoon and persisting overnight.
The repairs, begun after crews from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation discovered a sagging concrete ceiling about 9 a.m. Friday during routine maintenance, reduced inbound traffic to a single lane for much of the day and closed the inbound lanes entirely after 9 p.m.
For much of Friday afternoon and evening, traffic was backed up at least past the juncture with Interstate 79, five miles from the tunnel, said Steve Cowan, a PennDOT spokesman. Anecdotal reports put the backup -- at its worst -- stretching as far as Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon.
Crews from Allison Park Contractors, Inc. completed the emergency work to remove an approximate 10 foot by 30 foot section of the suspended tunnel ceiling that was sagging due to deteriorated support brackets.
"We certainly didn't want to inconvenience motorists," said Mr. Cowan. "But we wanted to make sure to keep roads safe."
Anya Sostek: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1308. First Published March 15, 2014 8:38 AM