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Troopers enforce HOV-lane rules, traffic backs up on Parkway North

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 12:09 p.m.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania State Police troopers stop vehicles and enforce the multi-passenger rule in the HOV lane of I-279 North during the morning rush on Wednesday September 11, 2013.

State troopers citing drivers riding solo in carpool lanes inadvertently may have caused traffic backups Wednesday morning on the Parkway North.

Police began an announced crackdown on usage of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, but gawkers riding their brakes past the police lights jammed traffic for miles, commuters said.

“It took me an extra 20 to 30 minutes to get to work, and the minute everybody passed where a cop had someone pulled over in the HOV lane, traffic resumed a normal speed and spacing,” said Mike Smith, 31, of Zelienople, who works at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.

“I think people aren't used to seeing cops in the HOV lane, and they assumed it was an accident.”

Ed McQuaid, driving from McCandless to his job at UPMC in Oakland, said traffic backed up from I-279 onto McKnight Road and he witnessed at least one near-accident when vehicles suddenly slowed.

“The police need to position themselves in an area where they aren't causing backups,” said McQuaid, 53. “They should just convert the HOV lanes into a toll road. People would gladly pay $1 or $2 to bypass that traffic.”

Troopers issued more than 60 citations and 14 warnings between 7:30 and 9 a.m., said Trooper Robin Mungo, spokeswoman for the state police. The crackdown will continue, she said.

“We realize that there were backups but we cannot not enforce the traffic laws because of that,” Mungo said. “We hope everyone will obey the traffic laws, including the restrictions on the HOV lanes.”

The lanes running from the North Shore to Perrysville Avenue are restricted to motorcycles and multi-occupant vehicles from 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except after special events when they may open to all traffic to relieve congestion.

Matthew Santoni is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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