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Motorists urged to use alternate detour to avoid Squirrel Hill Tunnel closure

| Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Many motorists ignored PennDOT's suggested alternate route during last weekend's closure of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel inbound, contributing to average delays of more than 90 minutes on the primary detour, a spokesman said.

“We hope more people use it this weekend,” PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said of the alternate route.

The Squirrel Hill Tunnel inbound will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday as part of a $49.5 million project to increase tunnel clearance by 2 feet. It's one of numerous road projects on major arteries this weekend as contractors hurry to finish work before weather changes.

Few used the alternate route last weekend, Struzzi said. Instead, they took the primary, four-mile-long detour, which has motorists leave the Parkway East at the Edgewood/Swissvale exit, turn north onto South Braddock Avenue and go through Regent Square to Forbes Avenue and turn left.

From there between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., the detour follows the mostly residential Beechwood Boulevard and Forward Avenue to the Parkway East. From 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., it follows more commercial stretches of Forbes and Murray Avenue.

PennDOT has posted signs encouraging motorists to leave the Parkway East a mile earlier at the Wilkinsburg exit and take the alternative route: Ardmore Boulevard and Penn Avenue to Forbes.

If more had used it last weekend, he said, “This (average delay) time may have been reduced.”

Other road work planned:

• Parkway West traffic in Robinson will be stopped several times for up to 15 minutes between 6 and 10 a.m. Sunday so crews can work above the highway near the Route 2 230/60 interchange.

• Fort Pitt Tunnel traffic will be reduced to a single lane in both directions from 10 p.m. Friday to 5:30 a.m. Saturday for maintenance work.

• Work will result in lane closures on the Parkway East between the Grant Street exit and Fort Pitt Bridge from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday. Also, a bridge carrying ramps from Fort Duquesne Boulevard to I-376 over the 10th Street Bypass will remain closed, as will a ramp from the Boulevard of the Allies and Parkway East westbound to Liberty Bridge from 8 p.m. Friday through early November.

• A section of Greentree Road and Old Washington Pike in Scott will be closed from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. for road repairs. Detour signs will be posted.

• Paving on Banksville Road in Pittsburgh, Mt. Lebanon and Dormont will result in lane closures as needed from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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