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A truly amazing bridge project

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

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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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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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Painting Pittsburgh's neighborhoods

Written by Heather Schmelzlen on .

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Painting of Pittsburgh's Central Business District by Ron Donoughe
 
 
Ron Donoughe has been painting for 25 years, and much of his work involves Pittsburgh.
 
But his most recent project is different, he said. 
 
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"It involves all 90 neighborhoods. Most folks don't realize there are that many. I know I was surprised when I saw a map, which listed them all. That's what sparked the idea. I actually thought I knew Pittsburgh until now."

Ron, 55, of Lawrenceville, is painting each and every one of the neighborhoods -- in alphabetical order -- and posting the paintings, along with the stories behind them, on his blog. So far, he's up to 25. He explained his process for choosing his spots:

"Sometimes it takes a couple days to know what and where I should paint. Other times I ask neighbors what they think is unique. That is always interesting because you find out what they consider special."

When he gets behind his easel to paint, palette in hand, his work frequently draws spectators. At first, he said, passersby are usually a bit confused, "but after I get something started, curiosity gets the best of them and we meet."

"I think of this as an opportunity to get to know the people of Pittsburgh and it is almost always enjoyable. They get to see something familiar through my eyes. People love it because the ordinary can suddenly become special."

His twin brother and technological consultant, Don, talked him into blogging as a way to keep the project together and allow others to follow along. Ron said it has also encouraged him to meet people while painting and get their story.

One of his favorite encounters, he said, was with a man on the Bluff who approached to admire his work.

"He was raised there and was obviously very proud of the neighborhood. Althought homeless and struggling with serious addictions, he shared some real insight to the place I was painting. He offered me a blessing when we parted.

"Those experiences cannot happen in the studio," Ron said.

 
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Ken, who owns a donut shop in Elliott, with the painting of his shop.
 
He has also learned that Pittsburghers don't always agree on neighborhood boundaries.
 
"I'll say, 'So how do you like East Hills?' The response is, 'This is Homewood! East Hills is up there.'"
 
The ultimate goal of the project is "to create a visual time capsule of the 90 neighborhoods that reflects the character of the city over an entire year," he said. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will show the paintings in an exhibition once the project is completed, and Ron said there is also the possibility of a book.

But, he added, "right now, this is so interesting, I don't want it to end."

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CentralNorthside smCentral North Side (Mexican War Streets)

 

 

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Sidney Crosby named one of NHL's best dressed

Written by Heather Schmelzlen on .

We're used to seeing them in oversized jerseys, their faces obscured by helmets and masks, but NHL hockey players know how to dress off the ice. Today, Vanity Fair recognized the 10 best dressed, and guess who made the list?

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Lookin' good, Sid. The Penguins captain comes in at No. 6. (and his hands aren't in his pockets!). Who's No. 1? Well, according to Vanity Fair, that would be New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, pictured below.

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Do you agree with the rankings? Who would you add to the list?

(Photos by Getty Images)

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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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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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Petition to keep the duck in Pittsburgh

Written by Heather Schmelzlen on .

If you haven't yet made it to Point State Park to see the giant rubber duck, you better get quackin'. Its last day is slated for this Sunday, Oct. 20 -- that is, unless some Pittsburghers have a say in it.

Earlier today, Twittsburgh started a petition on change.org to keep Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's work of art in the Steel City.

 

 

Among the "million" reasons to keep it, the petition lists "buoyed civic pride," "the local resurgence of ornithology," "improved FB/Twitter header pics" and "finally, a reason to try stand-up paddling." The petition had more than 200 signatures by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

What do you think? Has the duck overstayed its welcome? Should we keep it forever -- or maybe just through Ducktober?

 

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Photo by Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

 

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