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April 4, 2002

Getting around town without the outbound Ft. Pitt Bridge/Tunnel

With all due disrespect to former Pirates right fielder Derek Bell, this spring's real Operation Shutdown begins for South Hills commuters at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, when the outbound Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel will be closed for five months of repairs.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is setting up 16 detours around the bridge and tunnel. For motorists leaving Oakland, PennDOT recommends the following detour to Interstate 279: From the Boulevard of the Allies, take the Liberty Bridge exit to the outbound Liberty Tunnel. Upon exiting the tunnel, turn right onto Route 51 north and follow the signs to I-279.

PennDOT's two other main detours will run as follows: From the Parkway East (Interstate 376), follow the detour to the Fort Duquesne Bridge, then to Route 65 west for a half-mile, and then to the West End Bridge. Once across the bridge, follow the signs to Route 51 south. On Route 51 south, stay in the right lane and take the Banksville/Airport/Interstate 279 south exit.

From the North Hills, follow I-279 past Heinz Field to the West End Bridge. Turn left to the West End Circle and follow the signs to Route 51 south to the Parkway West.

The outbound Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel work, scheduled to run from April 6 to Aug. 31, represents the first phase of an $84 million reconstruction and restoration project.

Inbound traffic will be closed during the project's second phase, set to run March 29-Aug. 30, 2003.

A PennDOT spokesperson offered some consolation to Pitt personnel: No Oakland bridge or road closings are scheduled during either phase of the Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel project. "Any closings would just be for emergency repairs," she said.

Pitt is encouraging faculty, staff and students to use mass transportation during the construction. "Our department urges you to consider carpooling, vanpooling and public transit," said Kathleen Miller of Pitt's Department of Parking, Transportation and Services, during an on-campus information session last month.

For information on University ride-sharing, call 412/624-0687.

For more information on detours around the construction, contact PennDOT by calling 1-877/450-4279 or via its web site at

For information on Port Authority bus and trolley routes and park-n-ride facilities, contact the Port Authority by calling 412/442-2000 or at

Most Pitt students and employees can ride Port Authority buses and light-rail vehicles for free within Allegheny County by showing their University I.D. cards. But if the financially strapped Port Authority gets permission to raise its fares this summer, it plans to demand an increase in the $2.5 million that Pitt pays annually for the ride-for-free service.

See story beginning on page 1.

— Bruce Steele


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