As reported by Post-Gazette Harrisburg correspondent Kate Giammarise last week, state Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati has proposed raising the speed limit on Pennsylvania interstate highways from 65 to 70 mph. He noted that 34 states, including Ohio and West Virginia, have limits that high or higher and said a 70 mph limit would lead to “more efficient delivery of goods and services throughout the Commonwealth.”
In a world of universal adherence to speed limits, this might make sense. In the real world, where many motorists routinely drive 5 to 10 mph over the limit, it gives a virtual green light to those wanting to go 80 mph. It also likely would create a bigger differential between vehicle speeds, because not everyone is comfortable going 70. Both will factor into a likely increase in crashes.
A vehicle traveling at 70 mph covers a distance of 100 miles about 6 minutes faster than a vehicle going 65.
Crashes on the Ohio Turnpike went up 5.6 percent and injuries increased by 17 percent in the first year of the 70 mph limit there.
If the Legislature is in a “they did it, so should we” mood, it might consider passing a ban on handheld cell phone use like New York, Maryland and West Virginia. Then, to bring about “more efficient delivery of goods and services throughout the Commonwealth,” it should pass legislation to adequately fund roads, bridges and transit.
The Leet Street Bridge in Leetsdale has been closed by emergency order of the Public Utility Commission. The bridge, over Norfolk Southern Railway tracks and Route 65, was deemed unsafe in a recent inspection. It was built in 1886. Pedestrians are permitted to use the travel lane to cross — the sidewalk is too deteriorated to be used.
The new Trafford Veterans Memorial Bridge will be dedicated at a ceremony at 11 a.m. Oct. 26. A parade and reception are part of the festivities. The bridge carries Route 130 over Turtle Creek at the Allegheny-Westmoreland county line. The $11 million project began in April 2012 with the demolition of the former bridge.
The Squirrel Hill Tunnels will be open this weekend, with the usual overnight lane restrictions that end by 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Daytime traffic restrictions are possible starting today on Route 65. Traffic will be limited to one lane in both directions at times from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Riverview Avenue in Avalon and the McKees Rocks Bridge. The restrictions are possible on weekdays through Nov. 14 during construction of sidewalk ramps, pavement marking and guide rail and sign installation.
Old Banksville Avenue will be closed from McMonagle to Potomac avenues for at least two months, starting today. Crews will repair a slide and construct a wall. The street is parallel to Banksville Road, which will not be affected.
Replacement of a bridge on Potato Garden Run Road in Findlay was scheduled to begin this week. The road will be closed to through traffic through late December between Route 30 and Washington Road.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike will be closed in both directions between New Castle (Exit 10) and Beaver Valley (Exit 13) from 11:59 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday. Crews will work on removal of an overhead railroad bridge during that time.
Utility relocation work on Butler Street near the Pittsburgh Zoo will cause alternating one-way traffic Sunday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. between One Wild Place and Baker Street through Nov. 3.
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