Now that we have a winning baseball team that draws bigger crowds, we’re going to have to step up our games as fans. Too many people waited too late to try to get to PNC Park for Thursday afternoon’s game, and the result was not pretty: traffic jams, packed transit vehicles, desperate searches for parking and no doubt many late arrivals at the ballpark. It is no longer possible to drive to the North Shore and park 15 minutes before the game. There are numerous options for getting to and from PNC Park. It pays to have a plan and a plan B before you leave, and to get there early. And if you’re taking the T (and don’t have a ConnectCard), know the fare and have your money ready before the train reaches your stop.
Maybe it was just having a good night, but Port Authority did a superb job of moving the crowds after Tuesday’s game, a ninth-inning win for the Pirates. Most people stayed till the end and then flooded the North Side T station. Two-car trains and special Subway Local service quickly cleared the station. I’ve noticed that two-car trains are now pretty much the rule in serving Pirates games. In the past, no extra service was offered after games and riders had to shove and squash their way into the vehicles. A tip of the ball cap to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who demanded better service for transit customers.
A new study out of Carnegie Mellon University concludes that talking on a cell phone while driving poses no additional crash risk. I’m taking it with a boulder of salt.
The researchers studied data from 2002 to 2005, comparing crash rates before and after 9 p.m., the time when cell phone minutes became free on most billing plans. Cell phone usage went up 7 percent but the number of crashes did not, according to the researchers.
Problem one: Data that is 8 to 11 years old. Problem two: the researchers studied calls that jumped from one cell tower to another as evidence that they came from a moving vehicle but had no way of knowing whether the caller was a driver or passenger; problem three: traffic is lighter after 9 p.m. and that could be responsible for keeping the crash rate down; problem four: as the authors acknowledge, it is counterintuitive to assert that talking on the phone has no negative effect on a driver’s concentration and attentiveness.
I asked Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association what he thought of the study. His reply:
“Their findings go against conventional wisdom and the body of research available … States including PA need to look at the overwhelming body of research available and ban handheld cell phone use (by drivers).
“Hopefully, the public won’t hear the sound bites and think that they can safely use the phone while driving.”
PennDOT has started posting estimated drive times on the message boards along the Parkway West, as it has done on the Parkway East for the last couple years. Brings to mind that Jack Nicholson line: “The truth??? You can’t handle the truth!”
While the Squirrel Hill Tunnels are open this weekend, it’s worth keeping in mind that single-lane traffic patterns are in effect nearly every night starting at 9 p.m. inbound and 10 p.m. outbound. The restrictions are lifted by 5 a.m. daily, except Saturdays and Sundays, when the lane closures continue to 10 a.m.
As for the Liberty Tunnels, the outbound tunnel is scheduled to reopen at dawn on Monday. The inbound tunnel will close at 10 p.m. Wednesday and stay closed until the morning of Aug. 30. After 10 p.m. daily, both tunnels are closed until 6 a.m. the next day. Found out this morning that 6 a.m. means 6 a.m., as I watched crews scurry to remove the Road Closed signs and barrels at 5:59.
Concrete pavement reconstruction and paving will cause traffic restrictions on Route 65 this weekend. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions from Elizabeth Avenue in Avalon to the McKees Rocks Bridge from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday. The work is part of an improvement project along about 5 miles of Route 65 in Emsworth, Ben Avon, Avalon, Bellevue and the city of Pittsburgh. Work is expected to be completed late this year.
On inbound Route 28 today, crews are changing the traffic pattern to eliminate the lane split before the 31st Street Bridge. When they’re done, both inbound lanes will travel on the excavation below the bridge. We’ll see whether this cures the inbound jams that have been a fact of life in morning rush hour since May, when the split was introduced.
Washington Road northbound traffic will be reduced to a single lane from Ordale Boulevard to Mt. Lebanon Boulevard from 6 a.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Monday. Crews will excavate and install pipe.
A new traffic pattern will take effect in the work zone on Broughton and Horning roads in South Park at 7 a.m. Monday, with alternating one-way traffic through 11 p.m. Wednesday. Obviously, this is going to cause some serious delays and you will do yourself and mankind a favor by avoiding this area.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike will stage intermittent traffic paces (in which police cars lead traffic at 20-25 mph) between Beaver Valley (Exit 13) and Cranberry (Exit 28). Both directions will be paced from 10 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. Westbound traffic will be paced from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday. This will allow crews to erect beams for the new overhead bridge carrying Wallace City Road in Beaver County over the turnpike at mile 22.6. The bridge was closed for replacement March 18 and is scheduled for completion Oct. 25.
Port Authority rail and bus service will be detoured Sunday by track work and a closure of the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel. From the start of service until about 5 p.m., outbound Red Line service will operate via the Overbrook line because of track work in Beechview. Bus shuttles will serve outbound stops from Station Square to Potomac, and rail shuttles will operate between Potomac and Overbrook Junction. Inbound service will not be affected during that time. Normal rail service will resume from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when the tunnel will close for fan replacement. Rail and bus routes will terminate at South Hills Junction; bus shuttles will operate from the junction to Station Square; and Subway Local trains will operate between Allegheny Station and Station Square. The transit tunnel closure and related detours will be in effect until the end of service.
The Andy Warhol Bridge is closed to vehicle and pedestrians until 6 a.m. Monday. Crews will fix the bridge, then people will cover it with yarn. Can’t wait to see it.
Lane restrictions are possible on the Parkway North off-ramp to McKnight Road (Exit 4) from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through next Friday, Aug. 16. One lane will remain open at all times.
Reminder: Paving will close the eastbound lanes of the Tarentum Bridge from 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday. The work begins at West Seventh Avenue. Traffic will be detoured via the New Kensington Bridge. The eastbound ramp from the Tarentum Bridge to East First Avenue also will be closed. Westbound paving is tentatively scheduled for the following weekend.
Completion of repairs to the Swinburne Bridge in Pittsburgh has been pushed back to late September. The work was supposed to be done by now but was delayed by erratic weather.
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