Squirrel Hill Tunnel closing looms

Work to begin July 27 on westbound lanes

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The westbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel will be closed for the first of eight weekends of renovations starting July 27, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.

The tunnel will be closed from 9 p.m. July 27 to 5 a.m. July 30. Westbound-inbound traffic will be required to exit at Edgewood-Swissvale.

The posted daytime detour follows South Braddock Avenue, Forbes Avenue, Beechwood Boulevard, and Forward and Murray avenues back to the parkway.

At night, PennDOT recommends that drivers avoid Beechwood and Forward, staying on Forbes to Murray to return to the parkway.

The eastbound tunnel will remain open, but traffic may be stopped for short periods during movement of equipment and materials.

The weekend closures are part of a three-year, $49.5 million project to restore the interior, upgrade electrical and ventilation systems and increase the overhead clearance by two feet. That is expected to reduce traffic jams caused by over-height trucks being stopped and turned around at the tunnel openings.

PennDOT announced plans for the weekend closures in March and has worked with the City of Pittsburgh since then to improve pavement on the detour routes.

On Wednesday it also announced the tentative schedule for other weekend closings of the inbound tunnel: Aug. 3-6, Oct. 19-22, Nov. 2-5, and next year, March 15-18, April 12-15 and May 17-20.

That will be followed by eight weekend closures of the outbound side before the project's scheduled completion in July 2014.

Spokesman Jim Struzzi said the shift of three inbound closings to next year was a revision in the schedule, brought on by a combination of the progress of work thus far and difficulties in scheduling around fall events, including Steelers games. The change has not pushed back the expected completion date for the project, he said.

Correction/Clarification: (Published July 13, 2012) The first weekend closure of the inbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel begins July 27. A headline Thursday gave an incorrect date.
neigh_city - Transportation

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.


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