Relief in sight for inbound Parkway West drivers

Liberty Tunnel reopens Aug. 30

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Rush hour never seems to end these days on the inbound Parkway West, which is choked with traffic spilling over from the closure of the inbound Liberty Tunnel.

For commuters, who have endured backups on the parkway from the Fort Pitt Tunnels as far as Interstate 79 and beyond since the Aug. 14 closure, the only relief in sight is the reopening of the tunnel scheduled for Aug. 30.

Dan Cessna, district executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said Tuesday that no consideration is being given to allowing inbound traffic to use the outbound Liberty Tunnel to ease congestion on the parkway.

That concept might have been considered for a longer-term closure, but the relatively short duration of the shutdown does not justify the major traffic rerouting that would be required, he said.

Adjustments were made at the tunnel to lessen backups on West Liberty Avenue, but no changes are planned to reduce parkway traffic, he said.

Before the tunnel closure, the inbound parkway already had the distinction of being the most congested corridor in the U.S. outside of New York City and Los Angeles. With the posted detour taking motorists north on Route 51 to the parkway's Banksville interchange, things quickly got worse.

Inbound traffic Tuesday was backed up beyond Carnegie well after the normal conclusion of the morning rush. Even at noon, it was backed beyond the Green Tree exit.

At the height of it, drivers were taking a half-hour or more to crawl the 4 miles from Carnegie to the Fort Pitt Tunnels.

During the Liberty Tunnel closure, crews are constructing a new facade at the south end. The work is part of the $18.8 million fourth phase of tunnel rehabilitation.

The outbound tunnel is open during the day, but closes from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. When the long-term inbound closure ends, overnight closures will continue in both directions.

The overall project is scheduled for completion in November.

At the height of detour, drivers were taking a half-hour or more to crawl the 4 miles from Carnegie to the Fort Pitt Tunnels.

region - Transportation

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.


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