Squirrel Hill Tunnel closing this weekend

Inbound lanes to close Friday night

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The inbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel will be closed this weekend, the next-to-last full closure as a three-year, $49.5 million rehabilitation project nears the finish line.

The tunnel will close at 9 p.m. Friday and reopen by 5 a.m. Monday. Crews will pave the tunnel, install lane striping and replace bridge expansion dams.

The outbound tunnel will stay open, but there may be brief traffic stoppages as equipment is moved.

"We are closing in on completion," said Steve Cowan, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. "We're only anticipating one more closing," he said, possibly in July for paving the outbound tunnel.

This weekend's closure is the first since last July, and for drivers who might have forgotten, significant delays are likely. "If you're familiar with the area and know an alternate route, please take it this weekend," Mr. Cowan said. "If not, allow yourself plenty of extra time."

Inbound/westbound traffic will be merged into a single lane and required to exit at Edgewood-Swissvale. The posted detour during daylight hours uses South Braddock Avenue to a left on Forbes Avenue, left on Beechwood Boulevard and right on Forward Avenue to return to the parkway.

From 8 p.m. to daybreak, PennDOT asks drivers to turn left from Forbes Avenue onto Murray Avenue and bear right at Forward Avenue, to minimize noise to residences on Beechwood.

Previous tunnel closures have produced delays of up to two hours in exiting the parkway and navigating the detour route.

PennDOT's District 11 website will have camera views from the detour routes and estimated travel times throughout the weekend. A link appears in the right column of the district's home page.

Drivers can view traffic camera views on the Parkway East by visiting 511pa.com.

The major rehabilitation, the first since 1983, included upgrades to the tunnels' electrical, lighting and ventilation systems, structural repairs to walls and tiles and removal of the false ceilings to increase vehicle clearances. Mr. Cowan said the contractor, Walsh Construction Co. of Canonsburg, also is correcting a water condition that caused ice to form at the inbound portal during the winter.

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.

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