Asides: In Pittsburgh, flooded basements, closed tunnels and an outbound detour

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SUMMERTIME,

when the living should be easy, has been anything but that lately. Too many people in Allegheny County and the surrounding region spent the last week and a half struggling to recover from brief but brutal storms that dumped inches of rain at a time. While they shoveled mud and debris, pumped water from their basements and tried to cut through all the red tape involved when Mother Nature delivers a wallop, officials from Allegheny County Emergency Services were working with state and federal officials to determine whether any help will be forthcoming. Let's hope there's relief ahead.

GETTING OUT OF TOWN might seem like a good idea, but that won't be easy either. Some of the most daunting traffic restrictions of the summer will start Friday. Going east will be difficult because the outbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel will close at 10 p.m. and won't re-open until 6 a.m. on Monday, July 29. The work is part of an ongoing, $49.5 million rehabilitation project, but the restrictions will seem insignificant compared to the inconvenience involved going south. The outbound Liberty Tunnel also will shut down at 10 p.m. Friday, but it will remain closed for 17 days -- yes, days -- until 6 a.m. on Aug. 12. The concrete arch at the end of the tunnel will be replaced. When that's done, the inbound tunnel is set for similar work, and a similarly long closure.

MOTORISTS GOING west will be inconvenienced for much longer. A crumbling 335-foot viaduct that carries West Carson Street just north of the Corliss Tunnels will be replaced, and the $39 million project means a long detour for 8,000 daily motorists who will have to travel from the West End Bridge, along Ohio River Boulevard, to the McKees Rocks Bridge. Replacing the decrepit structure will take two years, during which the outbound lanes will be closed and a single inbound lane will stay open. Pedestrians will still have access on West Carson once the road shuts down on July 29. Come rain or shine, staying home is starting to sound pretty good.

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