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Renaming bridges, and letting them fall apart

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Rededication of the Allegheny County-owned 16th Street Bridge as the David McCullough Bridge will occur at 2 p.m. Sunday, the celebrated Pittsburgh author’s 80th birthday. He will be here for the ceremony. The Post-Gazette’s Len Barcousky reports on the event.

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The finger-pointing has begun in Harrisburg over the Legislature’s failure to pass transportation funding legislation. Perhaps it’s time that we voters pointed the finger at ourselves for electing, re-electing and tolerating a bloated, ineffective and often corrupt institution. Members on both sides of the aisle put aside the state’s economic health and public safety to play a juvenile game of politics.

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Meanwhile, crews will continue to inspect the structurally deficient Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh today through Wednesday. Lanes may close on First and Second avenues and Municipal Courts Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Wednesday; right lane closures are possible on the bridge from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday. The bridge lane closures have caused some pretty heavy backups, so plan accordingly. The bridge is one of hundreds around the state at risk of being weight-restricted because of deterioriation; the Legislature’s bellyflop on transportation leaves the bridge unfunded for badly needed rehabilitation.

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In other bridge news, a dedication ceremony was held Saturday at the new John K. Tener Bridge, aka the Charleroi-Monessen Bridge over the Monongahela River. This bridge provides another object lesson about what happens when the state’s transportation network is not adequately funded. The old bridge had to be shut down abruptly in February 2009 because an inspection revealed it might collapse. Drivers in that area dealt with more than four years of an 8-mile detour waiting for the new bridge. So let’s do the math. A bridge user with a back-and-forth weekday commute drove an extra 16 miles a day, or 90 miles a week. If our user took four weeks off, he drove 4,320 extra miles per year for four years and four months, or nearly 18,600 miles. If his car got 20 miles per gallon, that was nearly 930 gallons of extra fuel consumption, which, assuming an average gasoline price of $3 per gallon, cost him nearly $2,800. And that’s not counting the cost of wasted time.

Compare that to the estimated $100 to $150 that transportation funding proposals put forth by Gov. Tom Corbett and the state Senate would have cost a typical motorist.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering who John K. Tener was, check this out.

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workzonePaving is scheduled on Washington Road between McLaughlin Run Road and Boyce Road and on McLaughlin Run Road between Lesnett Road and Bower Hill Road in Upper St. Clair from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily this week, with no work on the July 4 holiday.

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Wall repairs will keep a lane closed on Bigelow Boulevard between Sixth and Seventh avenues, behind the U.S. Steel Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through July 12. Weather has stalled the work being done by Patrizio Art Mosaic Company.
 
Milling and resurfacing is scheduled to begin Tuesday on Peebles Road between Hemlock and Presidential drives in McCandless. Alternating one-way traffic with flag crews will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through July 9, with no work on the holiday.

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Lane closures are possible on the Smithfield Street Bridge from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today during inspection.

A landslide has caused closure of the southbound right lane on University Boulevard in Moon, PennDOT announced this morning. Traffic will be restricted to the left lane until further notice between Stoops Ferry and Beaver Grade roads. PennDOT crews were assessing the slide.

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