PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A planned closure of the Fort Pitt Tunnel this weekend has been cancelled.
While there might be snow in the forecast, the Fort Pitt Tunnel ceiling removal work is under one of the biggest roofs in Pittsburgh, so why not go ahead.
PennDOT says it’s a safety issue.
“Well, if you have several inches of snow and a line of cars on a detour route, our maintenance crews can’t get to the detour route to effectively salt the roadways to make it safe,” said PennDOT’s Steve Cowan.
So not only is this weekend’s work on the shelf, so are the single-lane closures planned for the coming week.
So PennDOT is preparing for winter weather, planning to keep on a full staff throughout the weekend and work to get ahead of the storm.
“We will be applying brine to roadways that do not have residual salt on them and we have plenty of salt our equipment’s ready and our manpower is ready to go,” Cowan said.
What winter weather we’ve had so far has been somewhat difficult with black ice mornings and multiple accidents, so the folks who drive the plows welcome a good old-fashion snow storm.
“At least with a major snowstorm, we can plow,” Cowan said. “Individuals know that it’s snowing; you can see it often times in ice storms, it just looks like rain and it becomes very hazardous for motorists.”
Meanwhile, in West Mifflin, part of Route 885 will be closed for the next five months.
It’s such a small section of road that is closed. You can stand at one end and see the other just over a third of a mile. But the detour route is another thing.
“It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt,” said one driver.
That would be an official understatement.
The primary route is Streets Run Road, and it’s a tight single lane that winds and twist through the valley until you reach the backups leading to the stop signs and the zig-zagging across the active railroad tracks.
An emergency vehicle going the other way would be challenged. But eventually you do make it to Lebanon Church Road.
“It’s a huge mess,” said Kayla Bannon, of Greensburg. “It takes forever to get anywhere.”
And to some, time is money.
“It’s taking a lot of extra time in a business where we are time sensitive, deliveries,” said Carmen Spinelli, of Air Ground Xpress. “It’s difficult.”
Drivers want to know why the work can’t be done in the overnight hours.
“For the contractor to do the work at night and then make the road passable during the day would be very difficult and make the project much longer to complete,” said Cowan.
As it stands, the road will reopen in early June and the detour will remain in place.
“We have a police officer stationed during the rush hour at Streets Run and Prospect where we are seeing a lot of the buildup,” Cowan said.