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Why PennDOT won't open the HOV lanes to singletons

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

The closure of the Washington Place ramp to Interstate 579-Crosstown Boulevard has caused some traffic snarls and questions by drivers as to why PennDOT doesn't open the Bedford Avenue on-ramp to the Parkway North HOV to all drivers, waiving the two-passenger rule.

Spokesman Jim Struzzi explains: "Anytime we open the HOV to unrestricted traffic all we find is that it transfers the problem to the HOV." The HOV on-ramp and its exits get congested and that defeats the purpose of the HOV, which is to provide a faster trip to car poolers. Also, construction has squeezed a portion of the HOV to one lane, which means even worse congestion if PennDOT throws it open to all comers.

Of course, we know that lots of people cheat and use the HOV without a second passenger, as described in this Post-Gazette story. And every now and then, state police set up shop to nab HOV cheaters.

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Here are some pretty stunning numbers and a striking image from the Pittsburgh Urban Blog of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research regarding the September service cuts looming for the Port Authority. The center has estimated that 227,000 Allegheny County residents will lose "reasonable access" to transit -- which it defines as being within 2,000 feet of a transit line -- and nearly 89,000 jobs will no longer have "reasonable access."

Here is a map showing the incredible shrinking transit system.

ServiceCuts

If you drive on the parkways or Route 28 with any regularity, especially during peak times, think of what the addition of extra vehicles will do to an already barely tolerable situation. It's been said before: If the cuts go through, the impact will be felt by riders and nonriders alike.

UPDATE: As of 10:15 a.m. today, the Parkway West was still backed over the top of Green Tree Hill. Think all the pink in the western and southern suburbs is going to make that any better?

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The weather forecast for the weekend is beautiful and you won't want to spend it sitting in traffic, will you? PennDOT is planning major restrictions in and around Downtown.

376The westbound side of the Parkway East will be closed from Grant Street to the Fort Pitt Bridge approach from 10 p.m. Friday to about 5 a.m. Monday. Traffic will be herded into a single lane and pushed off the highway at Grant Street, using Fort Pitt Boulevard to detour toward the Stanwix Street on-ramp or the ramp to the Fort Duquesne Bridge. These ramps also will close during the same time period: the Grant Street on-ramp to the westbound Parkway East; the eastbound Parkway East off-ramp to Grant Street; the Boulevard of the Allies on-ramp to the westbound Parkway East in Uptown; the ramp from the Smithfield Street Bridge to Grant Street: the ramp from Fort Duquesne Boulevard and the 10th Street Bypass to the Fort Pitt Bridge; the ramp from Fort Duquesne Boulevard and the 10th Street Bypass to Commonwealth Place.

The work is part of a season-long $8.7 million project to improve about 26 ramps and road segments connecting Downtown to interstate highways.

And more stuff Downtown: Traffic will be reduced to one lane shifted around a work area on the ramp from the inbound Veterans Bridge to Sixth and Seventh avenues from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Southbound traffic on Interstate 79 in Washington County will be detoured at the Laboratory exit from 8 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday as work continues on the new Route 40 overpass. Traffic will use the off- and on-ramps to get around the construction.

Inspection of the bridge that carries Mount Royal Boulevard over railroad tracks between Duncan and Toner avenues in Hampton will cause alternating one-way traffic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

PennDOT has postponed plans to close the bridge that carries Route 51 aka Coraopolis Road over Montour Run between Lewis Avenue and Ewing Street in Moon and Robinson this weekend.

Coming Monday: A $1.9 million project begins on Route 885-Clairton Road in West Mifflin. It will reduce traffic to one lane in both directions from Community College Drive to Lebanon Church Road starting at 7 a.m. and continuing through November. A contractor will resurface the road and do drainage, sign and signal improvements on 1.2 miles of the road.

Also this weekend, traffic on the ramp from the inbound Veterans Bridge to Sixth and Seventh avenues in Downtown Pittsburgh will be restricted to one lane, shifted around a work zone, from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday during expansion dam replacement.

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The Port Authority has announced detours on the Light Rail Transit system on Saturday.

On the Blue Line, from the start of service until 1 p.m., Library stops south of Washington Junction will be served by shuttle buses during bridge inspections. The stops will be close to rail stations, and buses will take riders to and from Washington Junction, where they may transfer to Blue Line service originating from South Hills Village.

Riders transferring to the inbound T at Washington Junction during this time must board from the outbound platform for service to Downtown because of power wire replacement happening nearby.

Part of the Red Line in Beechview will be closed for rail replacement from approximately 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the work, service to Red Line stops will be provided by a combination of detoured Red Line service, bus shuttles and local rail shuttles.

Red Line service will detour in both directions over the Overbrook line (where Blue Line T service operates), serving its normal stops Downtown, at Station Square and at South Hills Junction, then serving Boggs through Willow stations before continuing on its regular routing to South Hills Village. At Willow, riders can transfer to a local light rail shuttle that will operate in both directions between Overbrook Junction and Potomac.

Bus shuttles will offer inbound and outbound service to riders who use Red Line stops between Station Square and Potomac, with shuttle stops located close to T stops. At Station Square, riders may transfer to buses or the T to continue into Downtown. At Potomac, riders may transfer to the local light rail shuttle for service to stops between Kelton and Overbrook Junction.

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Quote of the day, from U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., talking about passing a long-term transportation funding bill:

"Given what's available for funding, I don't know that we could go much longer than a year and a half. ...We hope that the next election brings sane people who believe in investing in America, putting people back to work and competing with the rest of the world. If we elect more flat-earthers, we're screwed."

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