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.
PennDOT 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:
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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