Pittsburgh Tunnels

PennDot re-opened the Fort Pitt tunnel this weekend, eliminating many of the serpentine detours that have interfered with my image of the city. I've lived here for almost a month, but still have no idea where Squirrel Hill is in relation to the rest of Pittsburgh. After two years of construction, I unconsciously expected the new tunnel to be breathtakingly awesome. It's not.

With the re-opening of the Fort Pitt tunnel, I've started to realize that while it's not impressive, it is helpful in navigation. I've encountered three tunnels in Pittsburgh: Fort Pitt, Squirrel Hill and Liberty. Each have their own visual and experiencial characteristics. For instance, Fort Pitt tunnel is very bright and only about a quarter mile long. The Liberty tunnel on the other hand is nearly a mile long, and gradually darkens as you approach its center. These cumulative differences in the tunnels (and bridges) help to orient visitors as they criss- cross the city. UPDATE: The detours are back. I have no idea why. Frustration arises not so much from the fact that it's harder to get where I'm going (they plan the detours well, and there's plenty of clear signage) but because the roadways just aren't reliable. I'm too young to remember a time when reliability in the roadway wasn't a given. I expect some form of stability. The fact that the detours keep changing prevents any accurate estimation of travel time or efficiency of route. It also means that driving demands far more attention than normal.

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