PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Plug a tunnel and you get – slow, crawling, agonizing traffic.
“It was significant backups, and a lot of people were delayed for a long time as they took the detour route,” said Dan Cessna, PennDOT District 11 executive.
With the outbound Liberty Tube closed, the Liberty Bridge now necks down to a single lane, which turns up McArdle Roadway and over Mount Washington.
On Monday, we saw from NewsChopper 2 the backups stretched across the bridges and the Crosstown Expressway all the way to the Allegheny River.
Right now, there are no police working the detour route intersections.
“If we feel we need them after a day or two, we will add them,” said Cessna.
There were also significant jams on the Fort Pitt and West End bridges as Liberty Tunnel refugees sought an escape route.
Cessna says this same detour worked well when it was done last year because people found alternatives.
To that end, probably one of the best kept secrets as far alternatives is the Wabash Tunnel, which you enter behind Station Square.
“The Wabash Tunnel is a good alternative,” said Cessna. “In fact, it’s opening right now outbound from 3 to 11 to single-occupancy vehicles, so anyone traveling out of the South Side, that is a good alternative.”
The tunnel will dump you into the last bit of the detour to Route 51, but there is a light that will help you get into the flow of traffic.
Meanwhile, a rough start was expected, but not as rough as it wound up getting with backups of a mile or more at the intersection from Route 51 and 88.
“Basically, the first time the 51, 88 interchange has been changed in over 50 years,” said Cessna.
So PennDOT was watching closely and taking notes. On Tuesday, there ware still delays, but nothing like yesterday.
“What we did was we lengthened the signal phases; we added more time and the lights change less frequently,” he said.
With the green lights staying green longer, more vehicles are clearing through the intersection in all directions. Cessna also says the decision to leave the Glenbury Lane closed was on purpose.
“If we had Glenbury in there, we would need another phase that adds another cycle to the signal,” Cessna said. “We believe that would lead to more backups.”
But the issue of local traffic off of Ivy Glen cutting off the 51 north flow on the jug handle was still happening.
“We want to keep that to a minimum, especially during the peak travel times,” Cessna added. “It can really make a negative impact on traffic flow.”