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After decades of frustration...PA 51 and PA 88 intersection finally to be redesigned

For decades, residents and commuters in Pittsburgh's South Hills have waited for drastic and much needed improvements at the intersections of PA 51 and 88 in the city's Overbrook neighborhood.  From failed expressway plans and intersection redesign plans, this was one bottleneck that many thought would never go away.

Well, by 2014, the notorious left lane back up on Northbound PA 51 with traffic wanting to turn onto Library Road (PA 88) , Glenbury St.,and buses wanting to access the South Busway will be no more.  The daily mess will be replaced by a two-lane jughandle which will run from near Fairhaven Road, behind the existing Rite Aid Pharmacy, and then utilize Ivyglen St. 

The jughandle will be the key feature to a project that will eliminate all left turns from PA 51 at the dangerous intersection.

Other improvements include a second jughandleon PA 51 South at Fairhaven Road.  This jughandle will also utilize Stewart Ave.  In addition, three structurally deficient bridges and two culverts will be rebuilt.  A third, new culvert will be built over Weyman Run along the northbound jughandle route.

The project will cost between $14 and 15 million.  Construction will begin in 2013 and finish the following year.  A few businesses, including the Hillview Tavern, will be lost in right-of-way acquisition.

Story Links:
PennDOT to unveil planes for Routes 51, 88 in Overbrook ---Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PennDot: 'Jug Handle Will Alleviate Route 88-51 Bottleneck ---WTAE-TV

In the P-G article, it leads with a line from a Joe Grata story in 1993, "The public will get its first detailed look today at plans to untangle the intersection of Routes 51 and 88 in Overbrook."  I remember that story, and a few others and prior to and after it on other plans and delays to revamp this intersection.  I recall a billboard being a problem in a right-of-way squabble.

The WTAE story mentioned how this isn't the ultimate solution but the most cost-effective, and it most likely is.  With any chance to build a urban expressway along the Saw Mill Run valley killed decades ago, the only way to improve any traffic flow patterns on PA 51 is do piecemeal minor improvements.  Over 10 years ago, the much needed Liberty Tunnels, West Liberty Avenue, and PA 51 interchange was built.  Later, improvements were made to the intersection of PA 51 and Woodruff Ave.  Now, the much needed improvements to the 51 and 88 intersection. 

Now only if the state would come up with the money to buy all of the blighted Levitske Brothers property along Saw Mill Run Blvd. and use that to widen Route 51.


Anonymous said…
The comment about the Levitskie Brothers signs is priceless!

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