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Wabash Tunnel hours to be permanently restricted

Tom Fontaine
| Friday, May 17, 2013, 10:33 p.m.

The Wabash Tunnel will be off limits to motorists during overnight hours when it reopens early next month, officials said, partly because of drunken drivers.

The tunnel — a shortcut between West Carson Street near Station Square and Route 51 — closed in mid-April so workers could repair the gate system that controls the direction of traffic based on the time of day. The gate system was damaged in a late-night crash in October.

Crashes and drunken-driving arrests occurred frequently in and around the tunnel over the past four years, often involving motorists returning home from bars in Station Square or the South Side, said Port Authority of Allegheny County spokesman Jim Ritchie. The transit agency owns the 110-year-old former railroad tunnel that opened to motorists in 2004.

“Clearly there are safety issues there,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie said 11 crashes occurred in and around the tunnel during the past four years. Port Authority police made more than 60 DUI arrests in that time, he said. Almost all of the incidents occurred after 11 p.m.

Starting in June, once the gate system is repaired, the tunnel will close to all traffic from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

On weekdays, it will be open to inbound high-occupancy vehicles from 6 to 10 a.m. and all inbound vehicles from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The tunnel will be open to outbound HOV traffic from 3 to 7 p.m. and all outbound traffic from 7 to 11 p.m. It will be closed from 2 to 3 p.m.

The tunnel will be open to all outbound vehicles from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

About 500 vehicles a day use the tunnel on weekdays and about 300 a day on weekends.

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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