Get Ready for Another Liberty Tunnel Shutdown

Aug 4, 2014

A view from inside the inbound Liberty Tunnel during construction last summer.
Credit File photo / Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Ten days after the outbound Liberty Tunnel opened after a 16-day round-the-clock closure, PennDOT will close the inbound tunnel 24/7 for 17 days starting Tuesday at 8 pm.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said that like the recent work done on the outbound tunnel, the inbound tunnel will be painted.

"This allows a surface that allows crews to clean the inside of the tunnel,” he said.

Earlier work in this $18.8 million fourth phase of the project on the 90-year-old tunnel included repair of structural concrete, updating and repair of electrical, lighting and safety systems and refurbishing of the portal buildings.

Cowan said the inbound closure could cause more congestion than the outbound shutdown because inbound traffic tends to be more concentrated in a shorter timeframe. 

“There is more outbound traffic coming through the Liberty Tunnel on a typical day," he said. "There are about 16,000 vehicles that travel inbound on a typical day and about 18,500 outbound. However, [because] so many people tend to head to work at basically the same time, the department is going to have police officers at two key intersections guide motorists through the detour route.”

The officers will be stationed at West Liberty Avenue and the Liberty Tunnel and at the intersection of Route 51 and Warrington.  The official detour from the South Hills is:

  • Travel northbound on Route 51 to the Parkway West (I-376)
  • Take the Parkway westbound
  • Take the Banksville Road exit; loop back onto the Parkway (I-376) inbound (eastbound)
  • Travel through the Fort Pitt Tunnels and take the Grant Street exit to downtown Pittsburgh

But Cowan added: “We suggest motorists if you are familiar with this area and you have an alternate way to go into town, we suggest using it.”

Cowan said the inbound Liberty Tunnel is scheduled to reopen in time for morning rush hour Aug. 22.

“We will be very close to finishing this phase of work," he said. "There will still be an occasional overnight closure to clean up some miscellaneous construction items, but this will finish the bulk of the work.”

He did say there is a fifth phase to the tunnel project, “but it’s unfunded at this point so there’s nothing on the near horizon as far as work on the Liberty Tunnel.”