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City paving schedule includes soccer parking lots

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

The city has scheduled paving in Brookline, Carrick, Crafton Heights, Downtown, Perry North and the South Side this week. Work occurs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Don’t park in the way of the resurfacing equipment, or you will be towed. And if you live on a bumpy street that isn't being paved this year, try to overlook that the city is paving soccer parking lots on Friday.

Today: Mary Street from steps to South 29th Street; Mary Street from steps to Handler Street; Harcum Way from dead end to Mary Jane Street
Wednesday: Mary Street from steps to South 29th Street; Mary Street from steps to Handler Street; Harcum Way from dead end to Mary Jane Street
Thursday: Brinwood Avenue from city limit to Waterman Avenue; Woodbourne Avenue from Rockford Avenue to Chelton Avenue
Friday: Riverview Park soccer lots

Inspections will cause periodic lane closures on two bridges. The McKees Rocks Bridge will have single-lane closures weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Dec. 6. The bridges on the Tri-Boro Expressway under the Westinghouse Bridge in East Pittsburgh will have lane closures from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Wednesday.

Road work will cause lane closures on Route 30 between Possum Hollow Road and Turnpike 66 in Unity starting at 8 p.m. today through Thursday. Restrictions will lift by 6 a.m. daily.

Grant Street will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. between Fourth and Forbes avenues in Downtown Pittsburgh while crews bring in the City-County Building's Christmas tree.

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Engineer says Pa. roads, bridges shortchanged for 63 years

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Ody Mackin has been a highway engineer for 63 years and heads Mackin Engineering Co., one of Pittsburgh’s most prominent design companies.
In a recent column submitted to the Post-Gazette, Mr. Mackin says there has never been adequate funding for the state’s highway and bridge network. An excerpt:

“ … as a result, we are faced today with potential disastrous events with a litany of structurally deficient bridges, requiring the recent severe action (lower weight limits) taken by the Secretary of Transportation on 1,000 bridges throughout the state.

Mackin has several teams of top-notch bridge inspectors, and over the years, we have developed a significant body of knowledge regarding the state of many of the bridges throughout the Commonwealth. There continues to be decay, most of which is not readily evident to the driving public, bicyclists, pedestrians or those who use public transportation …

And, every time the subject is discussed, I recall the incident in Washington County when the Main Street Bridge collapsed suddenly onto I-70, and miraculously, no one was killed or injured. Our company provided the design for the bridge’s replacement, enabling us to experience first-hand the seriousness and urgency of our system’s problems. Obviously, there have been bridge collapses in other parts of the country, resulting in tragically different results.

Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive plan which will provide the necessary funding to provide safe movement of our citizens. The public deserves it."

Mr. Mackin’s is just one voice in a large chorus that includes business and labor organizations, environmentalists, local government officials and transit and safety advocates urging the Legislature to pass a funding bill. So far, partisan politics has drowned out the chorus.

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roadworkaheadPennDOT has already put out the word that the Squirrel Hill Tunnels will be open this coming weekend. Overnight lane closures will end by 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The bridge construction project on Interstate 79 at Route 422 in Butler County has halted for the winter, and all lanes are open in both directions.

The Liberty Bridge ramp to Interstate 579-Crosstown Boulevard will be closed again this week, with a detour in place after 9 a.m. daily through Friday. Work will conclude by 5 p.m. daily but the restriction has been lifted earlier on some days. The detour has caused serious backups on the bridge, so an alternate route is recommended. Here's a capture of the Monday morning backup:

crosstown

Lane restrictions are possible during washing of bridges that carry Interstate 79 over Deer Run Road in both directions and an I-79 on-ramp in Glenfield from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday. The affected ramp is the on-ramp from Route 65 to southbound I-79 and Deer Creek Road.

Intermittent lane closures will occur on Lebanon Road between Lebanon Church Road and Noble Drive in West Mifflin from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through Jan. 31 during water line work.

The on-ramp from northbound Route 837 to the Duquesne-McKeesport Bridge and the southbound Route 837 ramp under the bridge in Duquesne will have partial lane closures and shoulder restrictions during repairs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Saturday. Both ramps will stay open.

Lane closures are possible on Route 366-Bull Creek Road in Tarentum and Fawn from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 6 between the Route 28 interchange and Pleasant Road. Westbound restrictions (moving toward the bridge) will not start before 9 a.m.; eastbound closures will end by 3 p.m.

The Fort Pitt Tunnel will have single-lane traffic inbound starting at 10 p.m. today and Tuesday and outbound starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday during cleaning and maintenance. Work will end by 5 a.m. daily. With the Liberty Tunnels still closing at 8 p.m. daily there could be a bit of a backup from this.

The traffic pattern has changed on the Interstate 79 southbound off-ramp to Route 228 in Cranberry. Traffic going toward Route 19 must turn right at the signal rather than using the ramp to reach Route 228. Trucks are being urged to exit at Evans City and use Route 19 south to avoid the ramp restriction and tight right turn at Cranberry.

Homestead-Duquesne Road in West Mifflin has reopened after a two-month closure to repair a landslide.

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Race to close roads Downtown and elsewhere on Sunday

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

The first running of the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler footrace will close streets in Downtown Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods on Sunday. The race starts at Station Square and continues through the West End, North Shore, Strip District and Lawrenceville before returning to Downtown via Liberty Avenue. The course includes four bridges: West End, Andy Warhol, Rachel Carson and 16th Street. The entire course will close at 8 p.m. West End streets reopen by 9:30, North Side 10:30 and the rest of the course by noon. More information can be had here.

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The rationale for raising transportation taxes and fees in Pennsylvania is that they haven’t been increased since 1997 and inflation has eaten away at the revenue they generate. But some who support these inflationary adjustments are not on board with raising the threshold for projects requiring union-level prevailing wages. That $25,000 threshold hasn’t changed since 1961. So adjusting for inflation is good, except when it’s not.

There’s a good chance that the much-debated transportation funding bill will be derailed if unions and pro-union legislators don’t give a little. Rural lawmakers who are loath to increase funding for public transit need something to take back to their constituents, and raising the wage threshold could enable boroughs and townships to save money on smaller projects.

Sure, it would be nice if such side issues could be kept separate and the transportation bill voted up or down on its merits, political considerations aside. World peace would be nice, too.

More on transportation funding, from today's Post-Gazette, here and here. The Post-Gazette's editorial from earlier this week is here.

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mrzip

From the emailbox:

Getting America to Work, a nationwide coalition advocating for federal investment in the nation’s bus and rail transit systems, is urging Congress to stop scheduled cuts to the tax-free benefit for commuters using public transportation to get to work.

Current law allows workers and employers to pay up to $245 in monthly transit costs with tax-exempt dollars. This is the same maximum tax-free amount allowed for a similar benefit for those who drive to work and pay for parking. However, on January 1, the transit benefit maximum is scheduled to be cut almost in half, to $125 per month, while the parking benefit will remain at a maximum of $245.

“Keeping parity between commuter benefits for transit and parking is nonpartisan, common sense policy,” said Joe Costello, executive director of the Northeastern Illinois Regional Transportation Authority and chairman of Getting America to Work. “Transit benefits encourage more workers to use public transportation, reducing traffic congestion, the demand for gasoline and air pollution. I urge Congress to preserve transit-parking benefit parity.”

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menatworkThe Squirrel Hill Tunnels will be open for the weekend. Overnight lane closures will be lifted by 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

There will be several traffic stoppages on the Parkway East from midnight Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday between Squirrel Hill and Edgewood-Swissvale during erection of an overhead sign. Traffic in both directions will be stopped for up to 15 minutes at a time.

Just a reminder that the Liberty Tunnels close at 8 p.m. every day except Sunday, reopening by 5 a.m.

Red Line service may be delayed from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. today during the Beechview Halloween parade.

Work on a temporary roadway at Butler Street and One Wild Place in Highland Park was to begin today. Crews are removing the traffic island and the eastbound right-turn ramp from Butler Street to One Wild Place to prepare to build the temporary roadway. Drivers will make the right turn at the traffic signal. The work is part of the Heths Run Bridge replacement project and is designed to keep traffic flowing when the bridge is shut down. The temporary roadway through the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium parking lot will be for cars and light trucks.

The bridge that carries Prestley Road over Chartiers Creek in Collier will open to unrestricted traffic today. The project to replace the bridge deck and bearings, paint and make roadway improvements began in early March. Substructure painting will continue through November but will not affect traffic. About 6,000 vehicles per day use the road.

Overnight lane closures on Route 51 in Overbrook near the Route 88 intersection will occur tonight and on weeknights through Nov. 9. The restrictions are possible after 7 p.m. daily between Ivyglen and Maytide streets during manhole and pipe installation. Work will conclude by 6 a.m., except on Saturdays, when it will conclude by 10 a.m.

Northbound and southbound detours at the construction project on Route 837 at the Route 51 interchange in West Elizabeth will continue through Nov. 22.

Repairs to the Hulton Bridge will continue to cause alternating one-way traffic on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 8.

Bridges need to be washed, and PennDOT will be redding up the 40th Street Bridge across the Allegheny River starting Friday. Lane closures are possible weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Nov. 15. Bridge washing also will cause lane closures on the eastbound Boulevard of the Allies and on Forbes Avenue in the area of the Birmingham Bridge from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through next Wednesday.

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Days numbered for 88-year-old Greensburg Pike Bridge

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

 

gbgpike

The 88-year-old Greensburg Pike Bridge over Turtle Creek will close Nov. 5 for good, to allow a contractor to tie the road network to the new bridge being built next to it. The closure is expected to last for the better part of a year and will put traffic on long detours. Traffic on the Turtle Creek side will go east on the Tri-Boro Expressway to Patton Street, Fifth Avenue, Route 30 and back to Greensburg Pike. Traffic from North Versailles will follow Greensburg Pike to Warren Drive, Route 30, Linden Avenue, Beech Avenue and the Tri-Boro Expressway. Allegheny County is hosting a meeting about the closure at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Turtle Creek Municipal Building, 125 Monroeville Ave.

gbgdetour

The ramp from the Liberty Bridge to northbound Interstate 579-Crosstown Boulevard will be closed daily this week. The closure will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday to allow crews to seal the retaining wall beside the ramp. The detour takes traffic past the ramp to a right on Forbes Avenue, left at Chatham Square-Washington Place and right on Bigelow Boulevard to I-579. (Note: the reopening time may vary. It had reopened today by 2 p.m.)

Installation of accessible pedestrian ramps will cause periodic traffic restrictions at two intersections on Route 88 starting Tuesday. Alternating one-way traffic is possible at the Clifton Road intersection in Bethel Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays Tuesday through Nov. 15; and at the Brownsville Road intersection in South Park during the same time periods starting Friday and continuing until Nov. 15.

McKnight Road line painting is scheduled until 3 p.m. today between Evergreen Road and Perry Highway in Ross and McCandless. Stay back and avoid an unwanted paint job on your car.

Route 28 bridge inspection will close an inbound lane in Harmar until 2 p.m. today.

Eastbound traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be restricted to one lane between mile 73 and 74 near New Stanton from 6 a.m. Tuesday to 11 a.m. Wednesday during road repair. Motorists should expect delays, especially from noon to 6 p.m.

The E-ZPass express lanes on the Mon-Fayette Expressway between Finleyville (Exit 48) and Jefferson Hills (Exit 54) will be closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday for maintenance. E-ZPass users will be pushed to the 5 mph collection lanes at the toll plaza.

The ramp closure from Electric Avenue to westbound Route 30 in North Braddock continues this week, around the clock through 4 p.m. Friday.

The inbound Fort Pitt Tunnel will have single-lane traffic from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday during maintenance.

Pittsburgh paving will occur from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. this week in Bloomfield, Bon Air, Carrick, Crafton Heights, Downtown, Regent Square and the South Side. Beware: Pittsburgh police tag and tow vehicles that are parked in the way of paving operations.

Tuesday — Windom Street from Windom Hill Place to McArdle Roadway; Gamma Way from city limit to Henrietta Street; Hidden Timber Drive from dead end to Lessing Street; Alcove Way from dead end to Transverse Avenue

Wednesday — Brinwood Avenue from city limit to Waterman Avenue

Thursday — Calle Avenue from Fordyce Street to Institute Street; Institute Street from Calle Avenue to Roseton Avenue; Roseton Avenue from Fordyce Street to Institute Street; Alcove Way from dead end to Transverse Avenue

Friday — French Street from Garrison Place to Ninth Street; South Millvale Avenue from Friendship Avenue to Liberty Avenue

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The engineers strike back: say bridge weight limits not political

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

The announcement by PennDOT that 1,000 state bridges would be posted with weight limits to extend their service life because of a lack of funding to rehabilitate them has been labeled by some as a pressure tactic to force the state House to get moving on a transportation funding bill.

A “political stunt,” Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said in August.

“Why are they posting all of these bridges now? It smells of politics,” said Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township.

Now the head of the American Council of Engineering Companies fires back. Here is the statement by David A. Raymond, president and CEO:

“Engineers have an obligation first and foremost to protect the health and safety of the public. The recent action by PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who is a professional engineer, to place restrictions on bridges in need of repair throughout the state is consistent with that obligation. It also reflects the deteriorating state of infrastructure throughout our country. To suggest that Secretary Schoch’s action was motivated by anything other than sound engineering judgment, insults the integrity of engineering professionals who work diligently to safeguard the public every day.”

Postscript: The Roundabout is amused when politicians, who play politics on a daily basis, denounce others for playing politics, as though it’s a bad thing. And pandering to people who demand good transportation infrastructure but don’t want to pay for it? Smells of politics.

Postscript two: Posting of the Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh, the biggest affected span in the region, has been completed. The limit is 30 tons for double-axle vehicles and 40 tons for combination vehicles.

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menatwork

Repair work will cause traffic restrictions on the Hulton Bridge between Harmar and Oakmont on Friday and on Monday through Wednesday. Alternating one-way traffic will be in effect from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, with police and flaggers directing vehicles. Drivers should expect delays. Preliminary work has begun on a $65 million new Hulton Bridge, which will be built parallel to the existing span, with completion expected by October 2015.

PennDOT announced this afternoon that it has begun pavement patching on Route 19 in McCandless. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays through next Thursday between Ingomar Road and Sewickley-Oakmont Road.

Grant Street will be closed between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Downtown Pittsburgh from 4 p.m. Saturday to 11 p.m. Sunday for construction. Traffic will jog over to Ross Street.

A new bridge on Route 910 over the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Indiana Township will open Friday afternoon. The bridge, near Blue Run Road, is one of six being replaced to make way for a reconstruction and widening project on the turnpike between Butler Valley and Allegheny Valley.

Inspection of the bridge that carries the Parkway East over Swinburne and Frazier streets in Greenfield will cause periodic right-lane closures in both directions from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

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