Build a bypass around the Squirrel Hill Tunnels
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Every day at around 3 p.m. a huge traffic back-up takes place at the entrance to the Squirrel Hill Tunnels. No matter what PennDOT tries to do, including stronger lighting in the first 100 feet of the tunnel, a public relations campaign and the recently removed ceilings, nothing seems to stop the ever-present slowdown. Every day, this annoying bog down lasts until around 6 p.m, wasting everyone's time and gas.
The problem is the Mon Valley Expressway was built from the outside in instead of the way it should have been built, from the inside out. The Squirrel Hill Tunnel bypass and subsequent connection to Route 51 should have been built first. But now, despite some preliminary design work, there's no money to build the rest of this vitally needed roadway.
Don't worry, I have a simple solution. Build a tunnel bypass with future revenues from the EZ-Pass system. This system, along with license plate recognition systems, can be used to charge everyone using the bypass $2 per day without any toll booths or traffic slowdowns. Who wouldn't pay $2 a pop to avoid that dreaded traffic jam every day? I estimate, based on current traffic volumes, the state could pull in $4.5 million per year. Now do the simple math. That's $45 million over 10 years. That should be enough.
As a civil engineer in Western Pennsylvania, I have been waiting 20 years for this much-needed improvement.
First Published February 13, 2013 12:00 am