Wabash Tunnel milestones

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-- The short-lived Wabash Railroad finished burrowing a 3,450-foot tunnel under Coal Hill, now Mount Washington.

The Ferry Street Bridge and Wabash Tunnel, circa 1948.
Click photo for larger image.1917

--Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railroad bought the tunnel and much of the Wabash RR's property.

1925 -- A landslide caused major damage to the north portal and to the old Wabash RR bridge that crossed the Monongahela River into Downtown.

1931 -- Allegheny County bought the tunnel for $3 million, intending to use it as a traffic tunnel to relieve congestion at the Liberty Tunnels.

1933 -- The county commissioned a $5,000 feasibility study to determine whether the tunnel would be suitable for automobiles.

1936 -- Plans were unveiled for a major, split-level interchange on Route 51 at the south end of the Wabash Tunnel.

1946 -- Freight traffic was discontinued through the tunnel and over the Wabash Bridge when fire destroyed much of the Wabash Terminal, which once stood where the city developed the Point as part of Renaissance I.

1971 -- The Port Authority of Allegheny County spent $6 million to remodel the tunnel for Skybus, the high-tech, rubber-tired, automated people-mover transit system abandoned after public controversy and political opposition.

1980 -- Vandals worked their way down a double-file of 87 authority buses stored in the tunnel, smashing hundreds of windows and headlights.

1992 -- PennDOT and city officials toured the closed tunnel, checking it for possible use as a traffic alternative when they closed the Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel in the future for extensive repairs

1994 -- The Port Authority awarded a $3.2 million contract to demolish the concrete Skybus runway inside the tunnel and install new paving and drainage.

1995 -- The Port Authority board rejected a $25.8 million low bid to build piers for a bridge that would have connected Downtown to a new West Busway and north portal of the tunnel that was to become a high-occupancy vehicle facility.

2000 -- The $275 million West Busway, an exclusive busway to Carnegie and the Parkway West, was opened. Plans were dropped to build the busway along railroad tracks above West Carson Street from the Corliss Tunnel to the Wabash Tunnel.

2003 -- The Port Authority awarded an $11 million bid to build ramps to link the tunnel to Carson Street across from Station Square and to Route 51 at the southern end for high occupancy vehicle use.

Dec. 27, 2004 -- The Wabash Tunnel will open for mixed use. That is, car and van pools of two or more people during rush hours, and for all vehicles during off-peak hours. The tunnel is one lane that will be reversed to accommodate traffic flow.


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