Proof Positive: PennDOT's been smoking crack!

Very nearly all of I-79 south of Pittsburgh is being rebuilt.  From the ground up in spots-In a couple of years this will be a pretty high-class road.  Between junctions 1 and 33 and closer to Bridgeville.  The fine road will feed into the spiffy trumpet junction with I-70.  This junction has a notorious loop ramp from north to west. It's got the highest Jersey barrier I've ever seen-a good 12 feet; at least.  It's taller than most trucks and buses.  Now my question is, why can't they rebuild that junction to the same standard as the rest of the expressway?

There is of course, more.  I-279 was also being worked on-they're were resurfacing the road.  The big surprise here was the crews were out on Sunday bustin' a move.  But any brownie points earned by that were quickly dashed by the fact that they had the expressway closed southbound from exit 4A to exit 1A-I-79.  Yep, they were detouring off traffic into the hinterlands.  Now if this were at night, it could be tolerable.  But the timing couldn't be worse.  See, there were a whole lot of people going to Pirates games during that summer, even though they are horrible.  Many coming from the western suburbs, West Virginia, and Maryland.  A number of whom would use I-279 south to get back home.

So, on a Sunday afternoon, I-279 looked like it does on a weekday. The backup began at Three Rivers Stadium. Traffic was solid to Exit 4A.


While we're at it, who was the person who decided to let I-579 end at a traffic signal at the end of a tunnel?  I realize that the Liberty Tunnels aren't actually part of I-579; but couldn't they have put a flyover in at PA 51?  Although, PennDOT changed that by building a Single Point Diamond Interchange (SPDI) there, so we do get something.


Of course, the tomfoolery isn't restricted to older freeways. There's a brand spanking new expressway bypass of Uniontown-a project associated with the impending Mon-Fay Expressway.  US 40 is part of the road; and either end of Uniontown, it splits into regular and & business flavor.  At the east end, there's a rather hairy hill going up east of town.  The interchange is designed to maximize your driving difficulties.

Interchange Map 1

Going from a 25-mph curve to an sharp upgrade isn't exactly easy-especially in a bus or truck...If the guys at PennDOT had their heads on straight, the junction would look like this...

Interchange Map 2

Actually, you could even bag the ramps on the west end of the junction:

Interchange Map 3

The result is a savings in real estate, and a ramp that's a lot easier to negotiate-especially with a larger vehicle.

Why weren't these alternatives considered?  I have no clue.  PennDOT could make a lot of lives easier, not to mention improving highway safety by using some brains in junction design.

But...considering their performance so far-that's not likely to happen anytime soon...


Back to Pennsylvania Highways
Page updated November 10, 2005.
Page courtesy of C. C. Slater who originally produced the page and the graphics.  I have revised some of the content to reflect my observations.
Page transferred to me by Bob Chessick.