Don't hold your breath for a bypass
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Letter writer Raymond Jablonowski ("Build a Bypass Around the Squirrel Hill Tunnel," Feb. 13) has been waiting for only 20 years for a bypass around the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. Well, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and others have been studying the tunnel problem for at least twice that time.
Everything has been suggested and a number of things tried. The on-ramps before the tunnels were closed at rush hour back in the early '70s to see if that would eliminate the tie-ups. I remember having three inbound lanes during the morning rush hour in the late '60s by coning the outbound tunnel to allow for two-direction traffic.
The suggestion of a third tunnel for both the Squirrel Hill and Fort Pitt tunnels has been kicked around a number of times. And a bypass has been suggested and studied more than once. The sad fact is that Pittsburgh is using an expressway system that was designed in the 1940s and constructed in the '50s and '60s. The system is locked in by the rivers, hills and development.
But we still have it better than other cities that have tunnels to deal with. I have been caught in New York and the Hampton Bay areas during rush hour. We lose a half hour to tunnel tie-ups and those areas lose at least a full hour.
I would love to see a bypass also, but I think it will be close to 15 to 20 years before it can be built. The Mon-Fayette did the planning for a Squirrel Hill bypass and we have the opportunity since the lower end of Hazelwood is bare, but political fighting and finding money will take 10 years before design can start, then five years to design and acquire rights of way and five years to build. It will be an easy 20 years to eliminate the tunnel congestion.
CHARLES S. McCLAIN
First Published February 18, 2013 12:00 am