PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — PennDOT shutdown the Parkway West inbound entirely Thursday around 10:30 p.m. in an attempt to improve safety in the construction zone at night.

Traffic was detoured off the Parkway at Interstate 79, and then vehicles traveled through Carnegie to Green Tree where they could reenter the Parkway. Police were directing traffic as cars exited Interstate 79 along the detour route.

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KDKA’s David Highfield Reports:

It’s a huge project – $72 million to repave the Parkway West and fix some bridges. It’s meant narrow lanes, heavy traffic and dangerous conditions.

PennDOT’s been reducing traffic to just one lane overnight. But it’s just not safe.

“There’s some people that just can’t manage it,” said PennDOT’s Steve Cowan on Wednesday. “They’re not only putting our workers at risk, but they’re putting themselves and other motorists at risk.”

PennDOT says since August, there have been 12 accidents and one worker was hit by a vehicle in the construction zone.

“Unfortunately, there are people that speed through our work zones,” said Cowan. “People that drink and drive through our work zones, people that are on the phone and driving distractedly.”

It wasn’t an easy decision, but PennDOT decided to shut the Parkway West down overnight to make the work safer.

The plan is to close the inbound lanes Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and on Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.

Outbound lanes will close Monday and Wednesday nights 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Friday nights from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.

However, the outbound lanes will remain open on the nights the Penguins play.

KDKA’s Paul Martino Reports:

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Detours will take you through Carnegie and Green Tree.

Outbound (westbound)

  • Motorists will exit I-376 at the Greentree/Crafton (Exit 67) interchange
  • Bear left to north Route 121 towards Crafton
  • Turn left onto Mansfield Avenue (Route 3062)
  • Turn left onto Noblestown Road (Route 50)
  • Noblestown Road becomes East Main Street
  • Turn right onto Jane Street
  • Jane Street becomes Mansfield Boulevard
  • Mansfield Boulevard becomes West Main Street
  • Follow West Main Street to I-79
  • Take the ramp to northbound I-79
  • Follow northbound I-79 to I-376
  • End detour

Inbound (eastbound)

  • Motorists will exit I-376 at the I-79 south (Exit 64A) interchange towards Washington
  • Follow I-79 south to the Carnegie (Exit 57) interchange off-ramp
  • At the end of the off-ramp, turn left onto West Main Street
  • West Main Street becomes Mansfield Boulevard
  • Turn right onto Chestnut Street
  • Turn left onto East Main Street
  • East Main Street becomes Noblestown Road
  • Turn right onto Mansfield Avenue
  • Turn left onto Greentree Road
  • Turn right onto Parkway Center Drive
  • Follow to I-376
  • End detour

It’s not sitting well with folks who regularly use the Parkway West.

“I think it’s going to get worse, especially since the roads up there are very narrow,” said one driver.

But this wasn’t a decision made lightly by PennDOT. Closing the Parkway West down is a big deal, but the project has become unsafe.

They want to put safety before convenience.

The first overnight detour in the outbound direction will occur Friday night, Oct. 3.

PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna joined the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway to give details on why they reluctantly have to shut down parts of the Parkway West overnight.

“It’s just too dangerous [for workers],” Cessna said.

Right now, Cessna said they are about a week behind schedule, but that the overnight closures should help PennDOT catch up.

“I am hopeful that this will be able to speed things along and get out of this phase and get moving with the rest of [the Parkway West] project,” he said.

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David Highfield