PennDOT Apologizes After Wrongfully Detaining Fort Pitt Tunnel Drivers
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The inbound reveal of the Fort Pitt Tunnel may be known as the “Best Entry of Any American City.”
But about 25 motorists couldn’t have cared less Wednesday.
“I’m just frazzled,” Angelo Brunetti said. “I just feel like I was held hostage by the PennDOT workers.”
About 11:10 a.m. Wednesday morning, Brunetti was on his way to the Strip to pick up some chipped ham. He was just about the enter the tunnel from the South End. That’s when things got confusing.
“The light turned red, the PennDOT truck had the flashing yellow lights, so he pulled out,” he said.
At that point, traffic was stopped. Brunetti says then the light changed.
“Two arrows turned green,” he said. “I proceeded to follow him into the tunnel.”
The PennDOT employee, knocking icicles off the ceiling, and realizing there was traffic in the tunnel, pulled into the middle line, preventing everyone from exiting.
“He says, ‘You people are getting a ticket,’” Brunetti said. “There must have been 25 cars. He says, ‘Because you went through a red light.’ I said sir, the light was green.”
“People behind me, they said it was green,” he added. “Matter of fact, one of the individuals worked for PennDOT.”
Drivers were waved onto a maintenance ramp, then the wait began.
“We had to wait an hour-and-a-half for State Police to come and give us all tickets,” Brunetti said.
There was no pleading cases.
“He said the control guy up in the booth said it was red — and it was red,” he said.
PennDOT’s officials response is that they are looking into the matter further.
Brunetti says the ticket he was going to receive was for $105.
Watch Ralph Iannotti’s report:
Thursday night, more drivers came forward to contest the tickets.
Carissa Mendez of Aliquippa was driving into town when she said the lights at the tunnel entrance were switching back and fourth, green and red.
Mendez told KDKA-TV News to it “the light was definitely not just red.”
Linda Roberts of Upper St. Clair was also stopped driving though the tunnel. Richards said she couldn’t just come to a stop, because traffic was moving in front and behind her.
PennDot says none of the drivers will be ticketed, but may receive a warning.
They are apologizing, and say PennDot employees should not have detained anyone, only called police.
Eric Heyl of the Tribune-Review also reported on the incident and told NewsRadio 1020 KDKA:
“Suffice to say, if I was an employer and I an employee that did, at bare minimum, a public relations disaster and, at bare maximum, potentially breaking the law, I would certainly think some sort of disciplinary action is in order,” Heyl said.
Listen to his segment on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA:
They are continuing to look into the incident.