Motorists are able to ride out Squirrel Hill Tunnel closure

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PennDOT told everyone to avoid the outbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel this weekend, and it seemed like a lot of people did.

The tunnel is being rehabilitated, and on Sunday afternoon a sign advised that it would take 19 minutes to negotiate the detour at the Squirrel Hill-Homestead exit.

That proved fairly accurate. A test run took about 22 minutes.

PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said the closure, which started Friday night, went smoothly.

"Everything went as planned and we achieved a good amount of progress with the work," he said Sunday night in an email. "Traffic flowed well through the detour for most of the weekend with the most extreme delay being about an hour and twenty minutes during the peak Saturday. We thank motorists for their patience."

The tunnel was scheduled to reopen today at 6 a.m.

The closure was the first of several planned shutdowns as part of a $49.5 million rehab project.

The next closures are set for April 19-22 and 26-29.

The detour forces outbound traffic to merge into a single lane at the Squirrel Hill exit, with a posted detour during the day following Forward Avenue to a left on Beechwood Boulevard, a right on Forbes Avenue and a right on South Braddock Avenue to the Edgewood-Swissvale ramp.

The night detour is via Forward, Murray, Forbes and South Braddock avenues.

PennDOT has urged drivers for weeks to avoid the area and warned of significant delays. In the past, closures have caused delays of two hours or more, but motorists seem to have gotten the message this time to find another route.

The closures are allowing crews to remove the tunnel ceiling and rehab the outbound bridge over Commercial Street.

More inbound and outbound closures will occur as the project moves toward completion in early 2014.

More information is available on the PennDOT District 11 website,

Correction, posted April 8, 2013: The dates of the next tunnel closings have been corrected.

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Torsten Ove: or 412-231-0132. First Published April 8, 2013 4:00 AM


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