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Wave of the future: driving on the left side

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

PennDOT District 12, which includes Washington County, is providing a glimpse of the future with a video depicting a modern interchange where through traffic actually uses the left side of the road. This interchange will be built at the junction of Interstate 70 and Route 19 in South Strabane and is scheduled to open in 2017. If you aren’t familiar with a diverging diamond interchange, this video is well worth a work.

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Oil-bearing railroad tankers are “the Ford Pinto of the rails,” according to the city council president of Spokane, Wash. Two environmental groups on Tuesday filed a petition asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to ban the older tankers, saying they pose a risk for ruptures and explosions. The tankers in question make regular trips through Pittsburgh, passing Station Square and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The AP reports on the ban request at http://bit.ly/UcrlQM.

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Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the oil industry and railroads are offering a three-year plan to phase out the oil tankers. See the story at http://bit.ly/1wuVwif.

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The U.S. House passes a stopgap measure on Tuesday to keep federal highway and transit funds flowing to the states into next spring. U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, who voted in favor, has this to say:

“Highways are a critical channel of commerce. They bring raw materials to manufacturers and finished products to market. The way the federal government currently funds transportation programs is fundamentally broken. The legislation we passed today is a stopgap measure that ensures work will continue on important infrastructure projects.  The House and Senate should use this opportunity to work together and find a long-term sustainable solution to reform federal surface transportation programs.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., take a dimmer view.

Boxer:

“Sadly, the House has kicked the can down the road and has decided to shirk its responsibility to fix the Highway Trust Fund in this Congress. They have failed to send a message of certainty and confidence to the thousands of businesses and millions of workers who have asked us to act this year on a long-term solution for transportation.”

Blumenauer:

“American infrastructure, which used to be the best in the world and a point of pride bringing Americans together, is now a source of embarrassment and deep concern as we fall further and further behind other global leaders. We are here with a questionable short-term fix because this Congress has refused to address its responsibility to fund our transportation infrastructure system.

“Congress shouldn’t duck its responsibilities, but should pass a 6-year plan and its funding into law this year. We shouldn’t recess until we give the American people the transportation system they need and deserve to strengthen the economy, create hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs, and improve transportation for families across the nation.

“Ducking our responsibility today harms us all in the long run. Mark my words; next May we’re just going to be back here again, debating the same issue, but deeper in the hole with a steeper climb out.”

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menatworkCatching up on the road work, the outbound Liberty Tunnel is closed around the clock for painting, with reopening scheduled for 6 a.m. July 28. A handy guide to possible detours is here. Add to the list the Wabash Tunnel, which has no HOV requirement and is open outbound from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays.

The Route 51-88 construction site in Overbrook has new traffic patterns that will stay in effect through the end of the year. Left-turn traffic from Route 88 to Route 51 has been shaved to one lane; right-turn traffic from southbound Route 51 to Route 88 has no dedicated turn lane and must proceed to the traffic light before turning; northbound Route 51 traffic, including those who want to go left at Route 88, has been shifted to the jug handle that wraps around the Rite Aid pharmacy.

A new traffic pattern is in effect in the construction zone on Route 51 in Jefferson Hills. Traffic is shifted into a single lane in both directions between Worthington Road and the Elizabeth Bridge, continuing into mid-September. The $5.8 million project includes milling and resurfacing 4.3 miles of Route 51 between the Elizabeth Bridge and Coal Valley Road. Overall work will conclude in December, PennDOT said.

The ramp from Route 65 to southbound I-79 and the ramp from northbound I-79 to Route 65 in Glenfield are closed until further notice as PennDOT repairs damage from a truck hitting an overpass.

Pavement markings will be installed along the entire length of I-79 in Allegheny County next week. Work will occur after 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and cause temporary, slow-moving lane closures. Work wraps by 6 a.m. daily.

Old Steubenville Pike in North Fayette was to close today for removal and replacement of the deck on the bridge over Route 22/30. At 7 a.m., the road was scheduled to close between Stonesipher and Barmack roads and traffic will be detoured. The closure is scheduled to continue into November. The work is part of a milling and resurfacing project on Route 60 and Route 22/30 that is expected to continue into June 2015.

New stop signs are being installed this week for Federal Street traffic approaching the Henderson Street intersection on the North Side.

Westbound Route 30 in North Huntingdon will be restricted to a single lane of traffic overnight today and Thursday and again this weekend. The restriction will occur from Arona Road to the Pennsylvania Turnpike on-ramp from 7 p.m. today and Thursday to 5 a.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 7 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. A contractor will repair a slide and stabilize the hillside next to the road.

East Hardies Road in Hampton is scheduled to close from 8 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday between Route 8 and Ranalli Drive for paving.

Montour Run Road and Beaver Grade Road in Moon and Robinson will have alternating one-way traffic from the Montour Trail overpass to a point 700 feet west of the Beaver Grade Road intersection during paving from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Perry Highway will see traffic disruptions during overnight joint repairs after 9 p.m. Friday. Short-term, slow moving lane closures will occur through 6 a.m. Saturday from Longvue Avenue in McCandless to Bonnie View Drive in Pine.

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