Marathon, Penguins game, Pitt graduation to create traffic mess

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With Pittsburgh Marathon runners, commencement-goers, Penguins fans and rosary marchers filling the streets on Sunday, people traveling into the city will need to plan ahead to avoid their own marathon.

Phased road closings begin at 6 a.m. along the 26.2-mile race course, and buses will be detoured. The race will pose a special challenge for those attending Game 2 of the Penguins playoff series against Montreal or the commencement exercises for the University of Pittsburgh.

"If you just hop in your car and rely on your GPS, you might run into a roadblock," said Karen Fredette, marathon spokeswoman. "People definitely need to do some planning."

The Pitt commencement in Oakland and the hockey game in the Mellon Arena are scheduled for 2 p.m. The annual Rosary March will begin at 1:45 p.m. at Epiphany Church, 1018 Centre Ave., and head to St. Mary of Mercy Church at Stanwix and the Boulevard of the Allies. Downtown street closings are scheduled to last until 1:30 p.m. Oakland streets are to reopen at 11:45 a.m.

Most Downtown parking garages will be open, but those in the area of the race course have restricted hours. Street closings may cause traffic backups throughout the Golden Triangle, especially after hockey fans begin to stream in.

The confluence of events prompted city officials to release a statement Thursday urging travelers to stay calm and consider alternatives.

"We're asking the public at large and all of our commuters who will be coming Downtown Sunday to exercise patience and help us get through these events safely," said Public Safety Director Michael Huss.

"City police will be doing everything in their power to get roads open as soon as possible after the marathon in order to accommodate the expected traffic for the Penguins game. But even with that, there's a lot going on in town, and parking is going to be an issue. We need everyone to plan for heavy traffic, consider alternative transportation and think ahead," he said.

The city will activate its emergency operations center and work with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on Sunday to post traffic information on parkway message boards.

Parking

Only early birds will get spaces in the lots and garages closest to the marathon starting line, which is at 14th and Smallman streets in the Strip District.

The lot at 15th and Smallman will be closed from 6:15 a.m. to 9 a.m.; the lot at 13th and Penn Avenue from 6:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.; the lot at 11th and Smallman from 5:45 a.m. to 9 a.m.; the red garage at the Grant Street Transportation Center from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.; and the convention center garage from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The blue garage at the transportation center will close from 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

It will not be possible to enter or exit the parking facilities during those hours.

Restriction-free parking is available a bit farther away at these garages: Ninth and Penn, Theater Square, Fort Duquesne and Sixth, Sixth and Penn, Smithfield-Liberty and Oliver. Police also recommend the Mon Wharf, First Avenue Garage and Duquesne University Garage.

More information: www.pittsburghmarathon.com, click on Race Weekend then Race Day Parking.

Road closures

The customary rolling closures will occur, with no vehicles allowed to cross the race course.

The starting line area on Smallman Street will close from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Other closures in the Strip and Downtown at the start of the race will be from 6:30 to 8:45 a.m.

North Shore streets and the Downtown section between the Clemente and Warhol bridges will close from 7 to 9:30 a.m.; the South Side from 7:15 to 11:45 a.m.; Oakland-Shadyside-Point Breeze from 7:30 to 11:45 a.m.; Homewood-East Liberty-Highland Park-Shadyside-Bloomfield from 7:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.; and Bloomfield-Strip District to the finish line on 11th Street from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

More information: www.pittsburghmarathon.com, click on Race Weekend then Street Closures.

Transit

About 60 Port Authority routes will be detoured starting early in the morning through about 2 p.m. The authority recommends using the Light Rail Transit system and busway routes.

Buses from the north will end service near Allegheny General Hospital, where riders can transfer for free to shuttles running every 15 minutes to Ross Street, Downtown.

Buses from the west and south will end service at South Hills Junction, where riders can transfer for free to the light-rail system.

Most buses from the east will end service on Ross between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Transit service into Oakland will be very limited. Port Authority will operate a special free shuttle between Oakland and Squirrel Hill, allowing connections to 61A, 61B, 61C, 61D and 67A buses, which will detour around the center of Oakland.

G1 and G2 West Busway All Stops and EBA East Busway All Stops will travel through Downtown using Grant Street in both directions. Most of the 28X Airport Flyer's Downtown and West Carson Street stops will be discontinued during the race.

Greyhound service will be rerouted to Monroeville during the race.

More information: www.portauthority.org.

Oakland

Travel to Pitt's commencement exercises at the Petersen Events Center will be an adventure, with Oakland streets closed until nearly noon. The only main access route will be via Bigelow Boulevard from near Mellon Arena, Downtown. It can be reached from the Grant Street exit of the Parkway East via Grant and Seventh Avenue.

More information: www.pittsburghmarathon.com, click on Race Weekend then Getting Around on Race Day.

Elsewhere

Drivers will face some construction obstacles that are unrelated to the marathon but may cause them to hit the proverbial wall.

The Fort Duquesne Bridge upper deck will be closed to all traffic from 7 p.m. today until 6 a.m. Sunday.

Construction will continue on the outbound Parkway East from Churchill to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, with two lanes open and a 45-mph work zone speed limit.

A bit farther out, the Rankin Bridge will be closed from 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday, with traffic detoured to the Homestead Grays and McKeesport-Duquesne bridges.

More information: www.post-gazette.com/transportation.


Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit "The Roundabout," the Post-Gazette's transportation blog, at post-gazette.com.


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