KDKA Investigation: Wabash Tunnel

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Take a drive through the Wabash Tunnel and more often than not you’ll have it all to yourself.

The tunnel that was supposed to convey tens of thousands of cars in and out of the city every day barely scratches 600 vehicles and can be a lonely place even in peak times.

The feds, the state and the Port Authority spent $34 million to convert an old rail tunnel into a much-needed entry into downtown.

Unfortunately, it was only part of the plan which included a bridge into downtown that was never funded and never built.

“Well, it’s a tunnel to Carson Street,” Port Authority Spokesman Jim Ritchie said.

To make matters worse, the tunnel is high occupancy and reverse flow – one way into town in the morning and one way out at night.

Continuing to operate it that way is a yearly drain on the Port Authority’s budget and while PAT has reduced those operational costs from $400,000 to $200,000 a year, it would like to eliminate those costs entirely.

“It would make sense to make changes to the facility in one way or another to get greater use out of it, but unfortunately, the funding restrictions that are applied to that facility limit us to what we have today,” Ritchie explained.

If the Port Authority changes the way it operates the tunnel, the federal government will demand its money back, something State Auditor General Jack Wagner calls ridiculous.

“I hear that message but we are living in tough economic times and maybe it’s time for the feds to bend also,” he said. “Consequently let’s put this public asset to better use.”

Wagner says the tunnel should be opened up for everyone while Port Authority pursues funding for a bridge.

Port Authority leadership seems inclined to cut their losses and endure failure.

“Something didn’t happen in this project and this is what we’re left with today and so we’re doing the best we can,” Ritchie said.

More Reports By Andy Sheehan
Port Authority

  • Facepalm

    So, instead of finishing a project they started, a tunnel to nowhere… They started a new project, a tunnel to nowhere. The Wabash Tunnel was intended to connect to downtown via a new bridge. A bridge that was never funded. The tunnel under the Allegheny river, and light rail line to the north shore is intended to continue on, past the stadiums and casino someday, bringing light rail to the northside and Route 65 corridor. If history repeats itself, which it seems to do more often than not, should I be placing big money bets on the northshore light rail line ending up just like the Wabash Tunnel?

  • critter

    This has been reported in the past. Nothing new. Democrats at their finest

  • Same old Story

    It should be renamed the KD Investigators Tunnel, because they seem to be the only ones concerned about how many times it is used.

  • ROB

    I would bet that this tunnel project was at least 50% over budget, just like every other boondoggle project the Port Authority conjures up. A good example is the parking facility at the South Hills Junction, what a waste. When does bad manangement get punished for their poor judgement and lack of common sense.


    Another slow news day at KDKA, PAT was better off storing unused old buses in there.
    Maybe PAT can rejuvinate Sky Bus and use it there?

  • Insider

    Marty can rant about this for about 6 days on the radio


    I hope they keep reporting it every day DON’T FORGET 34 MILLION DOLLARS WASTED .

  • Charles

    Then allow single passenger cars in

  • Mack Arnold

    Open it in both directions with no passenger limits and people will use it. When you see all those lights and signs you don’t know if you can drive in or not.

  • MM

    Just put tolls on Interstate 80 to pay for the bridge, as well as anything else that PAT decides to waste millions of dollars on. Why is PAT never, ever held accountable for anything??

  • Don Lucente

    Just Like The Tunnel Under The River, Another Waste Of Taxpayer’s Money!

  • sj

    Gosh ! Just leave it alone. It reduces stress to drive through there and it is a terrific shortcut if you know where you are going. Besides, what would the PAT cop do in the afternoon that just sits on the South Entrance to the tunnel ?

  • TG

    Maybe if you change HOV 2 or more people per vehicle to single driver more driver will use the tunnel.

  • show me

    I go in and out of the city alot and don’t even knowwhere this tunnel is!

  • get real

    ok, it should not cost that much to operate ahort little tunnel.

  • Me

    Hey its hug a pot authority driver day today.

  • Ace

    This is why we need less government, not more. Why hasn’t someone been fired for this waste of our money?

    • C U Ontheotherside

      Fired?! Probably promoted!!

      • Ace

        Too true !

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