The first of eight possible weekends of Squirrel Hill Tunnel closures took place this weekend, and the detour route was backed up about an hour. The shutdown of the westbound tunnel is a part of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PennDOT) $49.5 million rehabilitation project through August.
Even though the detour routing was not smooth, the progress accomplished within the tunnel was. PennDOT spokeman Jim Struzzi said most of the construction goals PennDOT had for the weekend were completed.
"We did remove about 600 feet of the ceiling inside the tunnel that's going to be a big change for motorists traveling through there," Struzzi said. "We were also able to complete concrete slab repairs on the approaches to the tunnel, and also do significant rehabilitation work on the commercial street bridge which is between the Edgewood/Swissvale interchange and the westbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel."
For next time, Struzzi advises drivers to refrain from merging until they reach the designated merge point.
"It really helps things if you allow a weaving pattern, essentially like a zipper," Struzzi said. "The cars funnel down into a single lane, and that can really help people get off the parkway and onto the detour faster and then cut down that overall time that they're spending on the detour route."
Struzzi said PennDOT is meeting with the city for an after-action review to go over what was done well and what could have been done better. Struzzi added to take alternate routes if at all possible for this weekend's closure starting at 9:00 PM Friday, August 3rd.