PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Midday on the Liberty Bridge — it was as if everyone got the memo to go another way.
Crews were hard at work forming the rebar arch that will soon be encased in concrete at the mouth of the southbound tube.
But on the detour route it was anything but tranquil, at times it was bumper to bumper down Merrimac Street to the light at Virginia Avenue. And narrow enough that those who park there worry about damage.
“I still have my mirrors, I just walked down to make sure it is pushed in to see that it hadn’t been knocked off,” said Jamie Mason who parks on Merrimac Street.
At the Woodruff Street, Route 51 intersection, people sat and waited.
“What we’re going to do is monitor the traffic for the first few days and then make adjustments from there,” said Steve Cowan with PennDOT.
Watching the Route 51 light, we found only about nine to 15 cars making it through the light each time and some frustrated drivers taking chances, or flat out running the red light.
“We can implement police officers at key intersections as well as put flagmen along the route as well as looking at re-timing the lights along the detour route,” Cowan said.
People who live there say when the traffic is not backed up, it’s quite busy.
“Very hectic, I mean you can’t even get out of your driveway they don’t stop,” said Merrimac Street resident Larry Caparelli. “Not only are they not stopping, but the 25 mile an hour speed limit means nothing.”
Evenings and overnights are the worst he says, but our radar gun at midday never topped 34 miles per hour and as traffic built it was even slower than that.
PennDOT and Pittsburgh Police are most concerned about what happens to all these drivers who fill the Liberty Bridge everyday as they did during the rush hour on Friday.
“I think it’s going to be significant delays for many motorists,” Cowan said.
But as anyone who drives them knows, The West End Bridge backs across the North Shore daily and the Fort Pitt approach backups are legendary, even without the additional impact of detoured Liberty Tunnel traffic.
“The West End Bridge, Fort Pitt, the Wabash tunnels, anything you can do to avoid the Liberty Bridge and tubes is advised,” Cowan said.