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McArdle Roadway reopening eases 18-month burden on motorists

Tom Fontaine
| Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, 11:40 a.m.
Sarah Majkowski films from the center of the newly opened P.J. McArdle Viaduct #1, on the South Side, Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012. A ceremony was held to open Lower McArdle Roadway, which has been closed for repairs since January 2011.
   Majkowski, with CAPture Production Studios, was filming footage for a documentary.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Sarah Majkowski films from the center of the newly opened P.J. McArdle Viaduct #1, on the South Side, Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012. A ceremony was held to open Lower McArdle Roadway, which has been closed for repairs since January 2011. Majkowski, with CAPture Production Studios, was filming footage for a documentary. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review

Many commuters and business owners were thrilled to see the lower portion of McArdle Roadway in the South Side reopen Wednesday after 1½ years.

Not Dave Lehotsky.

A $10 million project to repair a bridge near Windom Street resulted in about $20,000 in added business at Lehotsky's L&M Sales hardware store on Sarah Street in the South Side, he said.

“Workers from that project were in here at least once a day, five days a week,” Lehotsky said, adding that they bought everything from sockets, drills and drill bits to safety vests, goggles and gas cans.

But for most motorists and residents, the reopening of a main corridor between the South Side and the Liberty Tunnel and Mt. Washington was long overdue.

Officials closed McArdle between Arlington Avenue and South Ninth Street in the South Side — used by about 12,000 motorists a day — in January 2011. The suggested detour took motorists about 10 blocks out of the way on busy East Carson Street to Arlington Avenue, which features a hairpin turn onto and off of East Carson.

“I hated it every single day,” said Rosie Fisher, 25, of Windom Street.

“Trying to get in and out of here was a nightmare,” said Bridget Haney, executive director of Community Options Inc. on Sarah Street. She said the closure added 10 to 15 minutes to the commutes of workers making daily trips across Western Pennsylvania to serve clients with disabilities.

Pittsburgh officials also were glad to put behind them a project that they said ran more than half a year behind schedule and $200,000 over budget because of heavier-than-anticipated traffic on Norfolk Southern railroad tracks under the bridge that brought construction to a halt for at least 10 minutes every time a train passed.

Crews repaired corroded steel and the deteriorated deck on Viaduct No. 1, a 79-year-old span that goes over the rail line near Windom.

McArdle between Mount Washington and the South Side also was closed for an extended period about eight years ago when crews repaired Viaduct No. 2, which goes over a ravine near Arlington.

Ron Klonowski of R&RK's Auto Repair Center on South 10th Street said he is happy about the reopening Wednesday because the roadway closure ate into his business. He said he lost business from many passing motorists who would drop off their vehicles for repairs in the morning, catch the bus to and from work and then pick up their vehicles on the way home.

“Hopefully, business will pick back up again,” Klonowski 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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