More than 200 police and law enforcement officers will participate in the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics starting this morning at PNC Park.
The three-day event to mark the opening of the 44th annual summer games will have 35 teams of officers running a relay to State College. The torch will be lighted at home plate in the baseball park and carried through the North Side, Strip District, Downtown, the Bluff, Oakland, South Side, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze.
The relay will then travel east through Wilkinsburg, Churchill and Wilkins, eventually reaching William Penn Highway/Route 22 toward State College.
Pennsylvania State Police warned motorists that the Route 22 portion of the relay coincides with the afternoon rush and to anticipate delays. Last year's relay caused major backups along Route 22.
The run is scheduled to begin around 8:30 a.m., move into the Strip District shortly after 9 a.m., pass Consol Energy Center around 9:30 a.m., cross the Hot Metal Bridge to the South Side after 10 a.m. and reach Highmark Stadium and Station Square around 10:30.
After that, the course crosses the Smithfield Street Bridge and uses the Eliza Furnace Trail to reach the Second Avenue parking lot, turns down Second Avenue to Court Place, the Boulevard of the Allies, Stanwix Street, Fourth Avenue, Wood Street and Forbes Avenue in Market Square.
The next leg takes Forbes back to Stanwix to Liberty Avenue through the Strip District and Lawrenceville to reach the Bloomfield business district around 12:30 p.m. The runners are expected to reach an exchange point at Forbes and South Braddock avenues at about 2 p.m. before heading through the east suburbs. The event will conclude with the lighting of the Flame of Hope at Penn State University's Medlar Field on Thursday evening.
Organizers said Western Pennsylvania torch run events have raised more than $1 million since 2010 in support of Special Olympics athletes.
Among the agencies participating this year are state police and the police departments of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Bethel Park, Clairton, Findlay, Irwin, Mt. Lebanon, Murrysville, Penn Hills, Penn Township, Plum, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Port Authority, along with the Allegheny County district attorney's office, county sheriff's office, FBI Pittsburgh bureau and U.S. Secret Service.