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Squirrel Hill Tunnel closure to force traffic into trick-or-treat neighborhoods

| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 11:59 p.m.

A heavily-used PennDOT detour route will run through the heart of residential areas in Regent Square and Squirrel Hill on Saturday as hundreds of children take to the streets for trick-or-treating.

PennDOT will close the Squirrel Hill Tunnel inbound from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday as part of a $49.5 million project to increase tunnel clearance by two feet. The main detour runs along South Braddock and Forbes avenues and, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, through residential areas on Beechwood Boulevard and Forward Avenue.

Trick-or-treating — which was moved from Wednesday to Saturday because of rain from Hurricane Sandy — will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“Usually trick-or-treaters aren't crossing South Braddock,” said Regent Square Civic Association President Alina Keebler. “A bigger concern for me is that drivers will get frustrated with the wait and take to the side streets where the kids are.”

Average delays along the detour route ranged from an hour to 90 minutes during three tunnel closures.

Keebler said she intended to send email alerts to association members urging them to drive carefully and watch for neighborhood children.

Pittsburgh police cruisers, with lights flashing, will control traffic along the route, spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said the agency didn't consider changing the detour route. The agency won't post signs alerting motorists to be on the lookout for trick-or-treaters, he said.

“It's too late to do that,” Struzzi said, noting PennDOT made road repairs along the detour route and adjusted the timing of traffic signals and installed cameras and signs along the set route.

PennDOT said the drop-ceiling inside the tunnel should be removed by the end of this weekend's work. Crews will perform up to four weekends of maintenance inside the inbound tunnel. They'll do similar work in the outbound tunnel, though a schedule is not set, Struzzi said.

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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