Navigating the City's 'Warp Pipes,' and What to Watch Out For

Mar 27, 2014

Traffic is stopped at a red light approaching the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
Traffic is stopped at a red light approaching the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
Credit Flickr user daveynin

Pittsburgh's roads can be challenging at times, often leading traffic to a slow and frustrating crawl.

But there are ways to avoid sitting in endless congestion through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.

Inspired by a Reddit conversation paying homage to Nintendo's classic "Super Mario" series, we mapped out some of the city's "warp pipes" — shortcuts, essentially — that much like Mario, allow drivers to warp to new worlds (or the South Side, at least).

Editor's note: This post has been updated to remove some of the more residential paths, however drivers should take care to navigate them safely and lawfully, being especially mindful of pedestrians, cyclists and pets.

Lawrenceville to South Side (Black Path)

Bigelow Boulevard, Liberty Avenue and Penn Avenue are arguably the most well-known routes to East Carson Street. This warp pipe eliminates the downtown trip, which can often be risky on game days or during rush hour.

Watch out for:

The drive to and from Bloomfield/Lawrenceville can be complicated. The Bigelow Boulevard/Bloomfield Bridge/Blessing Street intersection is basically a four-way intersection with lights. Be careful to obey the “No Turn on Red” signs as oncoming traffic cannot be seen from the back left. 

The reverse of this shortcut (from South Side to Lawrenceville) should not be taken during rush hour. The light at the five-way intersection at Herron and Bigelow Boulevard is very long between these peak hours.

Shadyside to South Side (Red Path)

Cutting through the Hill District removes the need to stay on busy Centre, Forbes and Fifth avenues and cuts down a lot of time from the trip. It overlaps the warp pipe from Lawrenceville to the South Side.

Squirrel Hill to South Side (Purple Path)

Second Avenue can be a Pittsburgh driver's best friend. It runs along I-376 for a length and then curves through parts of Oakland, Greenfield and Squirrel Hill, allowing an alternate path from the Parkway and Forbes Avenue.

Wabash Tunnel (Maroon Path)

Liberty and Fort Pitt tunnels are hubs of congestion. This tube no longer HOV during the West Carson reconstruction project until 2015. It has limited hours, but it provides a great shortcut.

Do you have suggestions for more warp pipes? Tweet us @esspgh or email us at