PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Beginning Tuesday at 8 p.m., the inbound – or northbound – Liberty Tunnel will be closed.
It will be closed for 16 consecutive days, while crews paint the inside of the tunnel.
“It’s going to be congested, particularly the first few days. It takes individuals a few days to find a different route or adjust their schedule accordingly,” PennDOT’s Steve Cowan said.
Drivers just survived the same closure on the outbound side of the tunnel last month.
That phase of the project actually wrapped up a day-and-a-half ahead of schedule.
However, there are no guarantees that will happen again.
Cowan said the inbound side isn’t scheduled to reopen until 6 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22.
“Plan in advance, give yourself some additional time. There will be congestion issues in the morning. So, we suggest that if you have an alternative route to please use it,” Cowan said.
There will be extra congestion on Routes 51 and 19 and the posted detour will direct people onto the Parkway West. So, it’s safe to expect more backups there.
Two police officers will be manning two key intersections near the Liberty Tunnel to help with traffic control.
“Additionally, the ramp from the tunnel up to northbound 51, we’re going to take out part of the island. So, both lanes can actually enter onto Route 51 northbound rather than coming down a single lane,” Cowan said.
One of the detours posted by PennDOT takes you down the West End bypass, and across the West End Bridge to the North Shore and then back into town.
The second marked detour is a bit more tricky. As you come across Route 51, take the ramp toward Banksville and loop back onto the Parkway and into the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
Since half the traffic that enters the tunnel comes from West Liberty Avenue, a change will be made Tuesday night to the ramp turning left — dedicating two turning lanes.
The good news in all of this is once this closure is complete, the majority of the work on the Liberty Tunnel will be done.
There will still be some overnight closures, but drivers likely won’t see another full closure of this magnitude.