Pittsburgh Traffic Among Worst In The U.S. But Don't Blame It All On The Tunnels

local traffic cost the average driver 127 hours and $1,776 last year

Lynne Hayes-Freeland
February 13, 2019 - 2:18 pm

Alexandragl | Dreamstime.com

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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - A leading provider of traffic data ranks Pittsburgh among the worst in the country. Inrix Inc. ranks Pittsburgh the 7th most congested city in United States (59th in the world).

The study shows that Pittsburgh commuters lost 127 hours in 2018 to congestion and that cost drivers about $1,776.

Boston ranked worst in the country with Washington D.C., Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle rounding out the top six.

Todd Kravitz, PennDOT’s Traffic Engineer tells KDKA Radio’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland they were not surprised Pittsburgh ranked high on the list, “especially the Parkway West, it’s always ranked high from a congestion level nationwide.”

What did surprise PennDOT is that the traffic is getting worse.

“What we kind of shocked by was the fact that Pittsburgh’s moved up in the wrong direction when it comes to congestion,” said Kravitz. (Pittsburgh was 5 percent worse than last year).

A lot of people will point to the tunnels around the area as the main culprit for congestion but Kravitz believes it is a bit of a misconception.

“If you would drive on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Monroeville and Harrisburg, you drive through four tunnels . . . but as you drive along the turnpike, you don’t experience the same kinds of backups and congestion at those tunnels and for all intents and purposes those tunnels are pretty much the same as our Fort Pitt Tunnel and our Squirrel Hill Tunnel,” said Kravitz.

What cause the issues according to Kravitz are the interchanges that are so close to the tunnels.

“That’s why you see issues on the Parkway West. As traffic is trying to enter from Banksville Road they’re trying to get on the Parkway. At the same exact point people traveling down the Parkway West are trying to get off to go to Route 51 so you have that crisscrossing movement there at the interchange that backs traffic up . . . it’s those crisscrossing and weaving movements that really cause the congestions and it’s not the tunnel,” said Kravitz.

The average parkway delay is 18 minutes.

Kravitz says they have done studies and begun to work toward improving the Parkway West, Parkway East and Interstate 79.

One the Parkway West Kravitz say they have done work to improve the main highway and are now planning for projects on the Banksville, Green Tree and Carnegie interchanges that they say should help improve traffic flow.

“We really can’t build our way out of congestion so we’re trying to find ways to better manage the traffic that we have on our roadways.”

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Related: Pittsburgh Ranks High In Another Best Cities List