Weather, traffic to heat up Labor Day weekend



As a cooler-than-normal summer reaches the Labor Day weekend, there’s at least a chance for a brief 90-degree turn in the weather.

The high for Saturday is expected to flirt with the 90-degree mark, and if it gets there, it would be the first time this year, according to National Weather Service data. The temperature forecast recedes to the low 80s on Sunday, with showers and thunderstorms possible that day and on Labor Day.

The highest temperature of the year so far came before the official start of summer — 89 degrees on June 17.

Those escaping Pittsburgh for a late-summer trip will have plenty of company on the highways.

AAA estimates that 34.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, the most since 2008. Of those, 29.7 million will be on the roads.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike expects 2.2 million travelers over the weekend and warned that delays and congestion are possible during peak travel times, which are from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday. The turnpike has suspended lane-closing maintenance work for the weekend.

Getting there will be a bit less expensive. The national average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $3.43 on Thursday, about 11 cents cheaper than a year ago, according to AAA Fuel Gauge. The Pennsylvania average was $3.45, 13 cents below the price a year ago, and in Pittsburgh, the average of $3.58 was down about 6 cents.

Police and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are warning drivers that there will be increased patrols aimed at reducing drug- and alcohol-related crashes this weekend. The crackdown is funded with grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

PennDOT’s drivers centers will be closed on Saturday and Monday.

For those staying home, the North Shore will be ground zero for fun this weekend, with Pirates baseball, Pitt Panthers football and the 2014 Kickoff and Rib Festival. The confluence of events will make parking on the North Shore a challenge, especially on Saturday.

The Pitt season opener against Delaware kicks off at noon on Saturday, followed by the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds at 4:05 p.m. For the baseball game, North Shore lots and garages will be open only to those with prepaid parking tags. Starting at 2 p.m., Pittsburgh police will stop vehicles without the tags from entering the North Shore. The Pirates are urging those fans to park Downtown.

The team recommends that those with prepaid parking arrive no later than 3 p.m. Spaces in presold lots will be limited, and late-arriving fans may be directed to lots other than the ones they typically use.

Although much roadwork will be suspended for the holiday weekend, there will be some trouble spots. Lanes in both directions on the Parkway West have been narrowed between Rosslyn Farms and the climb on Green Tree Hill, with a posted 45 mph speed limit, for the start of a two-year, $72.8 million reconstruction project.

PennDOT was to close the on-ramp from Carnegie to the outbound parkway at 5 a.m. today. The closure was scheduled for October but is being moved up out of safety concerns, spokesman Steve Cowan said.

On Route 19 in McCandless, southbound traffic will be reduced to a single lane from Pine Creek Road to Cumberland Road after 7 tonight and all day and night on Saturday, with restrictions lifted at midnight.

On Sunday, schedules will change on 22 Port Authority bus routes, with many of them getting more frequent trips.

On the 51 Carrick route, one of the most crowded, the authority is adding 11 weekday trips, 18 Saturday trips and two Sunday trips. The extra weekday service will be focused on morning and evening peak periods.

Midday service will be increased on four routes that travel on Forbes Avenue through Oakland. The 61A North Braddock, 61B Braddock-Swissvale, 61C McKeesport-Homestead and 61D Murray will operate every 20 minutes rather than every half-hour. Weekend trips also will be added on those routes.

The 75 Ellsworth and 93 Lawrenceville-Oakland routes will be extended. Details and revised schedules are available at portauthority.org.


Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1868 or on Twitter @pgtraffic.

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