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An Inconvenient Truth


Welcome to our regular Saturday feature “What Aggravates Me”

No, this isn’t about global warming. I’m enjoying the heat. No, this is about the fact that every time there are major events going on in the city of Pittsburgh, Penn Dot decides to do a project that inconveniences most people trying to get there.

Last weekend for example, the Pirates were playing at home against the Cardinals. Also, it was the final weekend of the Arts Festival. Game six of the Stanley Cup finals was being shown live on the big screen at Consul Energy Center and the Pride Festival was taking place. That’s not to mention anybody that may have wanted to get to the city for any other reason.

So what does Penn Dot do? They closed the Fort Pitt tunnels for the weekend to go along with the major construction project they are doing on route 65 and the never ending West Carson Street job. That meant getting into the city from the west side of town, where I live, was a nightmare.

I decided to get to the lunatic reasoning behind this type of planning, so I went right to the source. I interviewed the Penn Dot Schedule Supervisor. Since he didn’t want to reveal his identity, he will be referred to as the Anonymous Schedule Supervisor or A.S.S. The following is our interview.

“Do you mind if I call you Ass?’

“Why should I? That’s what everybody else calls me.”

“What is the logic behind closing the most used entrance into the city when there are four major events taking place?”

“Yeah, that was a good one wasn’t it? There’s no logic behind it. I just tell them to close it down.”

“I think the most frustrating thing is that the Fort Pitt construction was supposed to be finished last year.”

“Really, last year? Where did you hear that?”

“It was on the news.”

“You can’t believe the things you hear on the news. As far as I know, we never actually finish a job.”

“Speaking of which, will I see the end of the West Carson Street project in my lifetime?”
“How much longer do you think you’ll live?”

“You know, a lot of the time…actually most of the time, when I drive by a job site, nobody’s working.”

“That’s because we like to ease into a job. For the first few days or weeks, maybe months…we just stand around thinking, be the road…be the road.”

“Be the road?”

“Would you rather I said we’re just jerking around, trying to stretch out the project as long as possible?”

“There are other times when there are no workers even there. A couple of years ago 376 was one lane from around Moon to Beaver and anytime I went by there wasn’t a crew in sight.”

“But we had the barrels in place?”

“For months and months.”

“Do you know how heavy those things are? Once we get them in place we need to rest for a while, get our strength back.”

“Why would you close a lane if there is no immediate work being done?”

“Hey, I don’t drive that direction so it didn’t affect me.”

“The worst was a few years back. My wife and I went to a sold out Pirates game. It was a fireworks night. We found out the evening before that the Fort Pitt tunnels would be closing before the game was over, Route 65 was down to one lane in each direction and West Carson Street was closed.”

“If I remember correctly we also had the Liberty tunnels closed and work being done on the Squirrel Hill tunnel. That was my masterpiece! I think there are people that still haven’t gotten home from that game.”

“You’re a sadist.”

“You say sadist…I say to-mah-to.”

“That makes no sense.”

“I’m not here to make sense. I’m here to inconvenience as many drivers as I possibly can. Wait until you see what I have planned for the Regatta weekend.”

“You’re a sick man.”

“Yeah, but I work for the state, so there’s nothing you can really do about it.”

Follow John on Twitter @jknight841

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