Monday, May 2, 2011

Giving Route 28 an upgrade -- 25 years past due

Last week I was driving down Route 28 on my way to a meeting at the Department of Environmental Protection on Washington's Landing below the 31st Street Bridge. Washington's Landing (on an Island named Herr's Island) was once the site of a massive series of animal rendering factories. The uber-steep hill, Rialto Street, was known as Pig Hill because they would herd the swine down the hill and on to Herr's Island to meet their bacon-flavored makers.

There are many times when I go to a meeting at DEP feeling just like those pigs.

But my post is not about my intense dislike of DEP, but rather the better days that in the medium-term future will occur for regular motorists of Route 28. This important arterial links the City of Pittsburgh to the northern riverfront communities. It draws daily commuters from Millvale up to New Kensington and over the river to Oakmont and Plum, plus some points beyond.

For years, motorists have had to deal with narrow lanes, bridges that inexplicably narrowed from 2 lanes of thru traffic to one lane, and traffic lights at the 40th and 31st Bridges that would snarl traffic while they completed their convoluted cycles. Route 28 became the forgotten major transportation link in the region. I-279 and I-79 are the most important, everyone jumped on re-branding I-376, and Onorato only funneled money to roads that would directly service the Airport Corridor.

But in recent years, PENNDOT has upgraded bridges and ramps at the Route 28/Route 8 junction to take out the 1 lane bottlenecks and sub-standard infrastructure. They are now in the grand finale...the act of removing the traffic lights from the equation all together by lowering and relocating Route 28 so that in order to get on the bridges you will take an offramp.

After the project is done (in 2015) you will be able to travel traffic light free along Route 28 all the way into the city. Having traffic lights on a road that services nearly 100,000 vehicles a day is silliness. The widths of the travel lanes won't get wider, so it will still be a "cozy" drive in with your neighbors, but at least it won't be stop-go-stop-go-stop.

I like to think of a roadway system like our blood vessels. The City of Pittsburgh is the heart, with I-79/I-279/I-376/Route 28/and Route 60 as the arteries. Route 28 has had a major cholestorol problem for many years and now it is getting a much needed angioplasty. The construction headaches will stretch for probably 4 more years, but in the long run it will be well worth it.


  1. Are there guys in manholes on 28? Or murders? ~

  2. Now I'm concerned you're going to start recording my comments while I sleep during the night and playing them back in the morning.

  3. I already do that...