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A truly amazing bridge project

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

84bridge

This is nothing short of amazing. Crews built a new Interstate 84 bridge in New York right next to the old one, then demolished the old bridge and slid the new one into place on a Teflon-coated track. Faster, cheaper, less disruptive to traffic. Read the Wired report here. Thanks to Jeff Leber for the heads-up on this.

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The Squirrel Hill Tunnels will be open this weekend with overnight single-lane closures until 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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bureaucracy

The Port Authority is still waiting to hear from the Federal Transit Administration about whether it can waive the HOV requirements at the Wabash Tunnel for the duration of the West Carson Street construction project. This should be fairly easy, but recent history shows us that nothing in Washington, D.C., seems to come easy. (Cartoon: Jacob Shriftman)

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting to unveil an intersection improvement project at Route 58 (East Main Street) and Route 173 (Liberty Street) in Grove City from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 30 in the council chambers of the Grove City Borough Building, 123 Main St. The meeting will include a brief presentation and display area, with citizens able to discuss the details with the project team. The project is tentatively scheduled to be constructed in late 2014 or early 2015.

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menatworkInspection of a bridge over the Parkway East at Squirrel Hill/Homestead (Exit 74) will cause periodic lane closures in both directions on the parkway from 9 p.m. today to 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Maintenance and inspections will cause periodic lane closures at two Interstate 376 bridges from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Friday: the bridge over Todd Road and Raccoon Creek in Hopewell and the bridge over Cliff Mine Road and Montour Run in Moon, with restrictions also possible on Cliff Mine Road.
 
The inbound Fort Pitt Tunnel will be down to one lane from 10 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Wednesday for maintenance.
 
The ramp closure from Electric Avenue to westbound Route 30-Ardmore Boulevard in North Braddock will continue through 4 p.m. Friday during reconstruction and drainage work.

Inspection of the Wexford Run Road Bridge over I-79 in Marshall will cause lane shifts on the bridge and periodic lane closures on I-79 until 3 p.m. today. Two lanes of traffic on I-79 will be open throughout.

The southbound right turn from West Carson Street into the Corliss Tunnel will remain blocked around the clock through Nov. 1 as crews reconstruct a manhole.

Route 88 utility relocation will cause alternating one-way traffic from Route 51 to Tariff Street after 7 p.m. daily on weeknights through early November. Restrictions lift by 6 a.m. daily.

Lane closures are possible on Route 22 in North Fayette from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at four bridges that are being washed on these days: bridge over Old Steubenville Pike today and Wednesday, with lane closures also possible on Old Steubenville Pike; bridge over Route 978 on Wednesday and Thursday, with lane closures also possible on Bateman Road; bridge over Oakdale Road on Thursday and Friday, with lane closures also possible on Oakdale Road; bridge over McKee Road on Friday and Monday, with lane closures also possible on McKee Road.

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Speed limit: 80 mph?

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

 

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.

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leet
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.

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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.

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menatworkThe 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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Hail to the Washington Gridlockers

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

There’s continuing controversy in our nation’s capital over the nickname of the city’s professional football team. And some writers have publicly announced that they won’t use it in their coverage anymore. Astute football follower Gregg Easterbrook, whose Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN.com should be a must-read for fans, calls the team the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons. My suggestion: call them the Washington Gridlockers, in tribute to Congress. There’s plenty of precedent for naming Washington teams after civic institutions — the old Senators and the soccer Diplomats come to mind — and since football is played on the gridiron, there’s added relevance. Fans will root for the Gridlockers defense to induce gridlock on the field! The only possible drawback would be if Congress one day became efficient and responsive. Yeah, right.

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The 28th annual Columbus Day parade will be held in Bloomfield on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The route is on Liberty Avenue from Baum Boulevard to the Bloomfield Bridge. Street closures will start at 9:30 and the full parade route will close by 10:45 a.m. The Bloomfield Bridge will remain open throughout.

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From the Post-Gazette’s ace city hall reporter, Moriah Balingit:

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill to advance plans for Pittsburgh Bike Share, but amended the legislation to give council members the ability to approve future location of bike stations.

The bill, which amends a public works ordinance to define a bike station and would have allowed the city to enter a maintenance and operations agreement with the nonprofit Pittsburgh Bike Share, is essential for the project to move forward.

Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith and Natalia Rudiak, who represent communities in South Pittsburgh, the West End and Mt. Washington, both abstained. They protested that the project cut their districts out as none of the 50 proposed bike stations were in their district.

The station locations were determined in part by a consultant, who studied a variety of factors -- including the existence of bike lanes -- in deciding where the highest demand for bike share would be.

But Ms. Rudiak argued that her district should not continue to be punished because it lacks amenities. She pointed out that the East End, where demand was projected to be highest, has received millions in investment for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

The East End “is where demand has been created by public investment,” she said. “What we’re doing is actually doubling down on the millions of dollars of investment in these neighborhoods.”

Stephen Patchan, the bike-pedestrian coordinator for the city, said last week that the system was designed so that it could become financially self-sufficient after an initial investment from a federal grant and foundation dollars, which is why it was important to focus bike stations in places where demand was projected to be high.

Five council members voted for the bill. Ms. Rudiak, Ms. Kail-Smith and Council President Darlene Harris abstained from the vote.

The bill is up for final approval next Tuesday.

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menatworkPaving on Route 65 will have traffic in an alternating one-way pattern tonight. The restriction will begin at 8 p.m. both days and conclude by 6 a.m. between Elizabeth Avenue in Avalon and the McKees Rocks Bridge. Flaggers and police officers will direct traffic.

The Squirrel Hill Tunnels will be open this weekend, with the usual overnight lane restrictions.

The Freedom Road bridge over the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Cranberry will have single-lane traffic from 9 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday during painting and repairs.

 

The pedestrian bridge at East Liberty Station on the East Busway is closed because of construction. Pedestrians are being redirected via sidewalks.

 

Demolition of what’s left of the old Masontown Bridge will cause closure of Route 21 at the bridge area from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday.

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Big relief for Broughton Road drivers

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Broughton Road has reopened to traffic in Bethel Park after a two-year, $3.9 million project to widen the intersection with Baptist Road. Here’s a graphic we ran when the project started in March 2012 showing the revamped traffic pattern. Those turn lanes are going to make a big difference at the chronically clogged intersection.

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The Pennsylvania Turnpike will block the eastbound and westbound express E-ZPass lanes at the Gateway mainline toll plaza in Lawrence County from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday for maintenance. E-ZPass users will have to take the slow (5 mph) lanes.

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PennDOT driver license and photo centers will be closed Saturday through Monday for Columbus Day. Customers may obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.state.pa.us.

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menatworkDelivery of generators for the new Becks Run Pump Station will cause intermittent lane closures on East Carson Street at Becks Run Road from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and midnight to 6 a.m. Thursday.

Maintenance will close an inbound lane of the Fort Pitt Tunnel from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday. No restrictions outbound.

The West End Bridge will be cleaned starting tonight, causing single-lane closures at times after 10 p.m. on weekdays through Oct. 21. Restrictions will be lifted by 6 a.m. daily.

The lane closures that tied up traffic on Route 22 in Monroeville last weekend will be in effect again this weekend, during water line repairs. The restrictions will occur from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday between Old William Penn Highway and Elliott Road.

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Pa.'s passenger trains are saved; price of gas falling

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

PennDOT has put the finishing touches on a deal with Amtrak to keep passenger rail service intact. The Philadelphia Inquirer has the story here.

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AAA East Central reports that the price of gasoline dropped nearly 7 cents last week, to an average of $3.475 per gallon. Last year at this time, the average price was nearly $3.90.

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menatworkLane closures will occur on the northbound side of the West End Bridge and on West Carson Street between West Station Square Drive and the West End Circle starting at 8 p.m. Thursday and ending by 5 a.m. Friday during sign work.

Delays are possible this weekend at the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Butler Valley interchange, Exit 39, where traffic using the eastbound entrance and exit ramps will be alternated to allow for bridge deck repairs. The work will restrict traffic from 9 p.m. Friday through 11 a.m. Sunday. Westbound traffic will not be restricted.

The new bridge on Middle Road over the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Hampton will open at 8 p.m. Friday. Middle Road has been closed since March 11 for the replacement project, one of six that are being done in advance of a planned reconstruction and widening of the turnpike from mile 40 to mile 48.

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