Share This Page

Partial Squirrel Hill Tunnel closing to coincide with festival at Pitt, Pens game

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:46 p.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
The Squirrel Hill Tunnel as seen Wednesday March 20, 2013 will close starting this Friday evening and remain closed all weekend as a part of an ongoing $49.5 million project to raise the clearance inside the tunnel by 2 feet.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The Squirrel Hill Tunnel as seen Wednesday March 20, 2013 will close starting this Friday evening and remain closed all weekend as a part of an ongoing $49.5 million project to raise the clearance inside the tunnel by 2 feet.

The Squirrel Hill Tunnel will be closed to the Parkway East's outbound motorists this weekend as crews begin removing the ceiling in the eastbound tunnel, PennDOT said.

The closure — from 11 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Monday — will send about 35,000 motorists a day on detours through Squirrel Hill and Regent Square.

Events that could add more traffic to the mix include the 33rd Latin American & Caribbean Festival at the University of Pittsburgh on Saturday and a Penguins game Sunday night at Consol Energy Center.

Westbound tunnel closures last year added about 1 12 hours to inbound motorists' travel times, said Jim Struzzi, spokesman for the PennDOT district that includes Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.

“We haven't had any (eastbound) closures yet, so we don't know what to expect in terms of how traffic will react,” Struzzi said before predicting delays would be “at least as long” as last year's.

The four-mile detour will be in reverse of one used last year. The route again will vary depending on the time of day, going through a more residential area of Squirrel Hill during daytime hours and more commercial stretches of Forbes and Murray avenues at night.

All outbound motorists will get off the Parkway East at the Squirrel Hill exit and turn left onto Forward Avenue. From 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, motorists will turn left onto Beechwood Boulevard, right onto Forbes Avenue and right onto South Braddock Avenue to get back to the highway. From 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, motorists will turn left onto Murray, right onto Forbes and right onto South Braddock.

Struzzi advised motorists to consider alternate routes, such as exiting the Parkway East at Forbes Avenue and taking it through the heart of Oakland. Motorists can turn left onto South Bellefield Avenue, right onto Fifth Avenue, right onto Penn Avenue, continue through Wilkinsburg and get back on the Parkway East in Forest Hills.

Similar eastbound tunnel closures and detours will occur April 5-8, April 19-22 and April 26-29. Additional closures will be announced.

Contractors are allowed to close the Squirrel Hill Tunnel's eastbound tunnel for as many as eight weekends as part of the $49.5 million renovation project that began last year and expected to continue into next year.

Crews are increasing the clearance in the eastbound tunnel by 15 inches, to 14 feet, 9 inches. Electrical, ventilation, structural and other improvements will be made.

The inbound tunnel closed four times last year. Additional weekend closures will be needed this year to complete rehabilitation work, Struzzi said. They have not been scheduled.

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

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.