Those attending or running in the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, and those just hoping to avoid it, will face a daunting array of street closures, bus detours and parking complications.
Participants and spectators also have been advised that security will be ramped up for this year's race in the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon last month.
The safest bet for getting in and out of town may be the Port Authority's Light Rail Transit system, which wakes up early with service starting just after 4 a.m. The most reliable means of getting around town might well be on foot.
The transit agency, mindful of complaints about slow or nonexistent service during last year's marathon weekend, will run extra trips on rail and busway routes.
Street closings for the event will begin Saturday to accommodate the 5-kilometer run and kids' marathon that start on the North Shore and finish on the Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown. West General Robinson Street will close at 5 a.m. Saturday and the rest of the course at 7:30 a.m., with streets reopening at 9:30 a.m.
The 5K course starts on General Robinson next to PNC Park, encircles West Park and Allegheny Center, crosses the Andy Warhol Bridge into Downtown and follows Wood Street and the Boulevard of the Allies to the finish line.
The marathon starting line is on Liberty Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets. Near the marathon start, Liberty Avenue will close from Commonwealth Place to Seventh Street and Stanwix Street will close from Penn Avenue to the Boulevard of the Allies at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Liberty from Seventh to 30th streets will close at 6 a.m.
At the finish line, streets around Point State Park, including Commonwealth Place, Stanwix Street, the Boulevard of the Allies and Liberty Avenue will close at 3 a.m. Sunday.
The race course will have rolling street closures that vary from mile to mile. The first closures in the Strip District will be at 5:30 a.m.; North Side streets will close at 6 a.m.; West End-South Side, 6:15 a.m.; Oakland-Shadyside-Point Breeze, 6:30 a.m.; Homewood-East Liberty-Highland Park, 7 a.m.; and Bloomfield, 7:30 a.m.
Street reopenings are timed to accommodate the slowest runners and will occur from 8:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m.
Some Downtown parking facilities will have restricted access, with no vehicles allowed in after 6 a.m.; others will be blocked at 6:30 a.m. More than 4,000 parking spaces will be available in North Shore garages and lots and another 3,700 in the Rivers Casino garage, with free rides to Downtown available on the T. No one under 21 may enter the casino garage.
Links to more details of street closures and an interactive parking map are available at www.pittsburghmarathon.com/RaceWeekend.asp.
Extra transit service
The Port Authority will start Red Line service with a 4:06 a.m. departure from South Hills Village; Blue Line service from Library will start at 4:16 a.m. Several trips will operate in that first hour; later, Red Line service will operate at 20 to 30 minute intervals and Blue Line-Library trips every hour. Subway Local service will supplement the Blue and Red lines, so that service from South Hills Junction to Allegheny Station will operate every 15 minutes.
The G2 West Busway-All Stops route will have trips leaving Carnegie Station at 4:25 a.m., 5:10 a.m. and 5:25 a.m.; then every 15 to 25 minutes from 6:10 a.m. until 8:15 a.m.; then every 45 minutes thereafter. It will detour after reaching the West End to avoid the race course, terminating near Steel Plaza Station, Downtown.
East Busway service will have trips leaving at 4:13 a.m., 4:43 a.m. and 5:13 a.m. from Wilkinsburg Station and 5:43 a.m. from Swissvale Station; trips every 15 to 20 minutes from 5:43 a.m. to 7:17 p.m.; and service every 30 minutes thereafter.
About 50 other bus routes face detours on Saturday and Sunday because of the event. Most will be rerouted to the Steel Plaza Station, where riders can transfer to the T for free.
Squirrel Hill-Oakland routes will not serve Oakland during the marathon, but a free shuttle will transport riders between the two neighborhoods. To reach Children's Hospital from Downtown, riders should use the rerouted 64 Lawrenceville-Waterfront, as the 88 Penn will be unable to serve the hospital due to street closures.
Transit service should return to normal after 3 p.m. on Sunday. More details can be found at www.portauthority.org/marathon.
Race organizers and public safety officials have told runners and spectators to avoid bringing large bags to the course that may unnecessarily arouse suspicion and to be prepared for extra screenings.
Areas near the start and finish line will be off-limits except to runners and will be surrounded by 6-foot fencing and monitored by police or other security personnel.
Organizers will give runners clear bags to hold a change of clothes and other items they'd like to have transported to the finish line.
Allegheny County police, the sheriff's office, state police, Port Authority police and other agencies are being called in to offer extra assistance.
Extra city paramedics, who are donating their wages from the day to a charity for Boston bombing victims, will be stationed along the course. They will be assisted by 26 ambulance units from other agencies.
The U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it would remove mailboxes along the race route as a precaution.
"There will be some very visible security things you'll see. and there will be many invisible security things in place that you will not see," city public safety director Michael Huss said at a briefing last week.
He urged attendees to call 911 if they see any suspicious activity or packages.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic. Staff writers Liz Navratil and Moriah Balingit contributed. First Published May 3, 2013 4:00 AM