Fitzgerald wants another tunnel to aid Parkway West traffic
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says building another tunnel through Mt. Washington could reduce traffic jams on the Parkway West, one of the nation's most congested highways, but the price tag could be big, experts warn.
“I don't think it's anything that would be built in the next year or two, but we need to figure out a way to ease the traffic congestion in that corridor. As a long-term planning issue, it's critical,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday.
Fitzgerald — who suggested the tunnel idea at separate forums sponsored by the Community College of Allegheny County and Urban Land Institute — pointed to accelerating development around Pittsburgh International Airport and in the Robinson and North Fayette areas. About 100,000 motorists a day use the highway.
“We need to find a way to better connect those (developing) areas and Downtown,” Fitzgerald said.
Kent Harries, associate professor of structural engineering and mechanics at the University of Pittsburgh, expressed concerns about a plan he predicted could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
“You would have a number of serious impacts,” Harries said, noting such a project would require improvements on the Fort Pitt Bridge on one side of the tunnel and the notoriously congested Parkway West section known as Green Tree Hill on the other side to prevent “simply moving the bottleneck.”
It could be cheaper and more effective to ease congestion by looking for ways to reduce demand instead of meet it, Harries said. Possibilities could include so-called congestion pricing — imposing tolls during peak traffic periods — or improving alternate routes to make them more attractive to motorists. Some cities have removed parking spaces and increased transit options into particularly congested areas to reduce traffic.
Traffic data provider INRIX released a study in May that rated a three-mile section of the Parkway West as the nation's eighth-most-congested road — the worst outside Los Angeles or New York.
PennDOT spent $1 million to study ways to ease congestion. It plans to spend up to $60 million on improvements along the Parkway West including pavement and bridge repairs, but officials said there isn't money to make significant changes at three interchanges that could improve traffic flow.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of state fishing licenses
- Pittsburgh schools chief Lane stepping down next summer
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- West Jefferson Hills schools close because of gun threat
- Construction to close roads in O’Hara, Baldwin Borough
- Belle Vernon woman visits ship like lander she helped build as WWII welder
- Gas cost, construction barrels coming down for Labor Day travelers
- Embezzled $14.8M could cause woes for North Side firm Matthews International
- Pittsburgh Zoo staff caring for African lion suffering from seizure condition
- Western Pennsylvania schools’ denial of access to roofers prompts suit
- Asking price for Penguins franchise said to be at a record $750M