Yeah, like that’ll happen.

I have wasted many an hour, enough hours that they surely add up to days, weeks, perhaps months, sitting in the slow, fiery hell that is the Parkway East.

I hate, loathe, seethe at the Parkway East. I wish it ill. I evil eye it and spit upon it every chance I get. If I were to ever find myself walking on the Parkway East, I would dig my heels in mercilessly and curse vehemently the godforsaken stretch of road.

Reader Patrick recently emailed me a handy list of how to drive in Pittsburgh and this one particularly struck me between my eyeballs:

2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 pm. Friday’s rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

That’s church.

Prior to his promotion to the cushiest job in the history of cushy jobs, my father and I carpooled to town every day. We did our damnedest to avoid all traffic, but seriously, this is Pittsburgh. Avoiding traffic is like trying to avoid pigeons. Not. Possible.

We had many discussions on how we would alleviate the hell of the Parkway East if we were ever given the chance. We discussed adjusting the yields, annihilating the assholes who cannot merge, giving up on the Mon Fayette Never Ever Happening Expressway. We discussed the losers who slam on their brakes at the mouth of the tunnel as if they just realized they were driving into the ocean. We discussed blowing the mountain up to remove the tunnels completely, the people living on the mountain be damned. These are trying times. Sacrifices must be made.

I remember one particularly bad day on the Parkway after my father and I were no longer carpooling. I left work at 5:00 p.m. and while sitting in a traffic jam surely borne of Satan, Delilah After Dark came on my radio. Delilah After Dark starts at 7:00. I was pissed. I was shaking. When I was finally freed of the Parkway, I slammed my foot on the accelerator and did maneuvers that would have made Danica Patrick stand up, take notice, and say, “She’s a really shitty driver.”

I couldn’t even make it to my place one mile from my parent’s house. Their house was closer and wine lived there. I stalked into their house, past my father sitting down doing a crossword puzzle, past my mother standing in her kitchen drinking a cup of coffee asking me sweetly if I’d like dinner, to the wine bottle I knew would be sitting on the counter and gulped it with shaking hands.

There are two things that will drive me to drink. Lukey and the Parkway East.

Having said all of this, check this out:

Now the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has a plan: Build elevated toll lanes over part of the Parkway East between Downtown and Monroeville. “It’s an idea, that’s all,” turnpike commission Chief Executive Officer Joe Brimmeier said.

It is an idea. It is an idea like every other idea that has never come to fruition.

But PittGirl has already resigned herself to this very real fact: By the time they figure out a way to alleviate the traffic on the Parkway East, there will be flying cars, and I will fly my car in a way that would make Danica Patrick stand up, take notice, and say, “She’s a REALLY shitty flier.”

Kiss my ass, Parkway East.





32 Comments

  1. spoon
    February 28, 2008 11:03 pm

    I have a solution to all traffic problems in this city. Yinzers, learn how to merge.

    1) do NOT zoom up to “beat the traffic” when you know that the lane ends in 1500 feet and hope that someone will let you in. you’re now part of the problem.

    2) one car goes, one car comes in. simple. know your role and don’t speed up so you’re one car ahead. karma will fuck it up for everyone else behind you.

    3) quit cutting people off so you can get an extra car length ahead and then doing it again, and again, and again. Odds have it you’re in a car with tinted windows or you’re on your cell gabbing while driving your soccer mom car.

    4) Parkway East needs an HOV lane but that would mean another 15 years of construction.

    I’d say you all should move to the north where we have a daily drive time of 15 minutes but then you’d eventually screw up my commute and that’s not cool.



  2. Goob
    February 29, 2008 12:24 am

    The sad thing is that there is really no way to make it better; there isn’t anyplace to put more road, really. And if they put a road on top of the road, that won’t make it any better, as everyone on the lower deck would sense somehow that they were really in a tunnel and slow to the requisite twenty miles per. And I’m pretty sure the folks on the upper deck would sense that they were driving -on- a tunnel, and that would mean slowing to a new requisite fifteen to celebrate this magical new way to interact with tunnels in cars.

    A modest proposal: trebuchets and trampolines. Businessmen in dark suits and red ties, flung through the air like dolls, taking careful aim at trampoline after trampoline, bouncing home over the parkway in great arcs. We can fill the air with them; we can turn the skyline into a demented work of Robert Longo, like the fountains at Las Vegas, every day at five.

    Well, that might be silly.



  3. eileen
    February 29, 2008 1:40 am

    Try the beltway everyday, Parkway is nothing compared to that.
    My father taught us 100 different ways to avoid the parkway at all cost.
    He made sure we knew every back road in the city. I think I was 30 before I ever rode the parkway.
    The only thing worse in his eyes was Route 8.
    Or as they say in the Burg, Root 8.



  4. Steeler_tom
    February 29, 2008 1:56 am

    Uh,
    I don’t want to complain but I’ve been on the Parkway & trust me when I say I’ll take the parkway any day of the week over the GD 405 or even the I-5 in LA.
    Geezus! I kid you not when I say 3.5 hours to go 20 miles, 20 freakin miles! OMG!
    Sorry babe, no sympathy this time. But hey have a great day!



  5. A-Rod
    February 29, 2008 8:02 am

    hey PG….do you have Danica’s number?

    rawr!!



  6. Joe
    February 29, 2008 8:15 am

    You could move to the *other* side of the tunnel. There’s a whole city on that side.



  7. PGH33
    February 29, 2008 8:22 am

    My problem is this…why do we have to pay extra for everything in the Burgh?

    This will really make people mad that I’m comparing but it’s true… Cleveland’s highways are a lot better than ours…they have at least 4 lanes on each side…some with express lanes (THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR).

    Granted they don’t have tunnels and they’re as flat as whatever…

    The only highway in Northeast Ohio that costs money to use is I-80 (the Ohio Turnpike) and it’s about HALF of what we would pay to use I-76 (the Pa Turnpike). We have to pay to use 60 north of the Airport, we have to pay to use the Southern Beltway near the Airport, we have to pay to use the non-existent Mon-Fayette Expressway.

    And supposedly we’d have to pay if we want to avoid the Squirrel Hill tunnels.

    I understand that we do have a lot of layout issues and I love our mountains and hills and wouldn’t trade them for anything. I just wish we could be updated to normal standards of highways or parkways without it having to be an extra bonus for the people with money to use.



  8. Sofa King
    February 29, 2008 8:31 am

    Ahh, that sounds like the High Occupancy Toll lanes that VA-DOT is building on the Beltway. It seems like a solid idea, the trouble here is that by the time anything gets done, traffics already 10 times worse than they initially planned for.

    In college I had a job that required me driving all over Western PA at all times of the day, and I can honestly say that I would willingly sacrifice various parts of my anatomy to deal with Pittsburgh traffic instead of DC traffic every day. It can be annoying- like the time it took me 45 minutes to get from Bates St. to the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, but I’ve never seen more irritating traffic than we have here.
    Not in LA, NY, Miami, nowhere. The foreigners are bad enough, but then you have to deal with a-holes from MD, where the driving exam apparently consists entirely of being able to spell “car” in under 3 tries. Really, I long for the days of Pittsburgh traffic.

    If Pittsburgh really wants to be a big-time player moving into the later 21st Century, it really needs to consider expanding its mass transit system. The state already owns the right-of-ways for the rail lines that once ran along the rivers, so that’s a start.



  9. Me
    February 29, 2008 8:51 am

    Yes, I also hate the Parkway East which is why I moved away from the eastern suburbs. (It is okay to cross a river and move to another part of the city…) However, Pittsburgh traffic and commutes, really, truly, are nothing compared to most other cities. Yes, there is that insane on-ramp from Squirrel Hill outbound, and yes, most of the ramps are too short to really merge properly, but really, we don’t know what traffic truly is.



  10. hta911
    February 29, 2008 8:52 am

    Maybe you could try moving into the city? Nothing beats walking to work or a 10-minute bus ride.



  11. John
    February 29, 2008 8:59 am

    I’m so very happy I live in the western suburbs and avoid the Parkway East at all costs. The picture of PittGirl stopping a mile from her house just so she could get to wine brought a smirk to my face. Of course, listening to Delilah in the Dark usually drives me to drink, too.



  12. Muddypelican
    February 29, 2008 8:59 am

    I sofa king agree with Sofa King. Pittsburgh has one of the worst mass trainsit systems of any city I’ve been to. If they would expand the T it would alleviate a huge amount of traffic.



  13. Lauren
    February 29, 2008 9:02 am

    I took a class in college that basically went over the history of Pittsburgh. Back in the 1950s, according to the professor who taught the class, Pittsburgh was up for a grant that they could have used to build a beltway around the city. City government used it to “re-beautify” downtown by building new skyscrapers. The result is the lovely traffic system now, where getting from one side of the city to the other is like navigating the Amazon jungle, except with jackass drivers instead of screeching monkeys.

    P.S. D.C. is worse. Much worse. And they have a beltway. So maybe it doesn’t matter… Eh, maybe not.



  14. Obamarama
    February 29, 2008 9:29 am

    “Squirrel Hill” sounds like Squirrel Hole… so small…better slow down,yall. Rename it HUGE BIG N WIDE TUNNEL.



  15. Kelli
    February 29, 2008 9:31 am

    About 2 years ago, this time of year, I got rid of my car. And this post reminds me of why I’m glad I did it.

    Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. This has been a hard winter for a pedestrian/bus rider. But just thinking about the Parkway East and the Squirrel Hill Tunnels is enough to make me think I made the right decision.



  16. Johnny
    February 29, 2008 9:39 am

    I agree with hta911. Move to the city. If people would only move into the city, the taxes would go down, the commute would be lessened, property would be revitalized, and you would get to vote for Mayor. Of course, this plan would probably mean that Lukey would not have won the election.



  17. Dan (Not Onarato)
    February 29, 2008 10:12 am

    I have to disagree with spoon…I live here in the north…dont move here and screw up my morning commute…too many stupid driver here already.

    Mon-Fayette (Non-Fayette)….MAGLEV (MAGLeft)…elevated toll roads to eliminate parkway traffic (Pigeon-poop)….

    Boondoggle.

    And if I could quote Pittgirl…”THATS church”

    Preach it.



  18. Mary
    February 29, 2008 10:14 am

    It is what it is. Deal.



  19. addie
    February 29, 2008 10:33 am

    Agreed! Move to the city!

    I’m a new Burgher (about 1.5 years) and we’ve vowed not to move outside city limits, for this reason and many others. Port Authority buses certainly aren’t perfect, but nothing beats waking up on a snowy morning and walking a block to get the bus to work, leaving your snowed-in car behind.



  20. bucdaddy
    February 29, 2008 10:53 am

    I’ve never understood this: If you strolled to the front of a long checkout line at the grocery store and insisted you and your full buggy were entitled to force their way ahead of everyone who’d been waiting a half hour, you’d get the snot beat out of you. And you’d deserve it. And you know you’d deserve it.

    But people think it’s perfectly fine to zoom up the fast lane into a construction merge and force the driver at the front of the line to let you in, because your time is obviously so much more precious than everyone else’s. And there’s always some other fool who will let you in!

    It doesn’t surprise me that drivers occasionally shoot more than the finger at each other. It surprises me that it doesn’t happen a lot more often.

    I like the idea of renaming the Squirrel Hill the BIG N WIDE TUNNEL. I always figured yinzers had to slow down to read the sign that says “MAINTAIN SPEED THROUGH TUNNEL.” And read it every damn day, just in case it changes.

    Seriously, when I was in high school I had a summer job that involved driving all around the south and west of the city. I learned how the Green/Blue/Yellow/Orange Belt system works in a hurry.



  21. unsatisfied
    February 29, 2008 11:00 am

    or, better yet — do what I did and get a job where you can loaf, I mean, WORK from home!

    my commute is 5 feet from my bedroom to my home office.

    and, I agree with the other posters here — pittsburgh traffic cannot come close to the traffic in DC or hotlanta. I’ll take pittsburgh traffic every day of the week and twice on sunday over those areas.

    not to say that there aren’t asshole drivers around here — oh, yes, there are.

    as for the parkway north — I don’t mind it all, compared to the parkways east and west. but, the layout of the HOV lanes is the worst waste of public tax dollars in history. when those lanes were constructed, they should have been in the form of what’s in use down in DC — the HOV lane is the far left lane of the main highway, not divided into its own lanes. that makes it much more accessible/useful.

    of course, I did bitch about the DC traffic above, so…..no easy answers, I guess.



  22. unsatisfied
    February 29, 2008 11:02 am

    btw — danica patrick: ROWWWRRRR!!!!



  23. Zsa
    February 29, 2008 11:35 am

    I live in Edgewood and bus to work downtown. I would still live in the city if I could have found something the size & quality I have for the price I pay, but I couldn’t. This was where the place I liked happened to be. I wasn’t going to pay $300 more in rent for a cracker box that didn’t allow pets just so I could vote for Mayor.

    Some people specifically say OMG NO LIVE IN CITY but many others don’t, and I’m kind of tired of us all getting lumped together and ragged on.

    The buses do go far far outside the city – they just run so infrequently that a lot of people opt not to use them. The living outside the city isn’t the problem, the shitty bus schedules are the problem.



  24. Brian
    February 29, 2008 12:43 pm

    I know people complain about getting cut off, but Jesus, OK … here are some things that must be resolved (and yes, the Parkway sucks it big time, the ideas concocted in that P-G story are only slightly less proposterous than helicopter rides over the mountain, and the Mon-Fayette will never exist):

    1.) Driving is not a competitive sport. If someone is going to pass you, as long as they use a turn signal (more on that in a moment) your life WILL continue. Quit being a baby. The fast lane is the fast lane so people can pass slower-moving traffic. It is NOT an extra lane for driving given to you by PennDOT as some sort of gift. Learn how it works. It has a use, and don’t whine if people use it for its real purpose.

    2.) Use your f***ing turn signal. It’s easy, and if you’re on the Parkway or some sort of multi-laned road, use it when merging. I never get mad until some asshole whips in front of me, sans signal, then SLOWS DOWN! But seriously, use the signal. Oh, and you use it before you apply the brake to make your turn or move, not during or, as I love, after.

    3.) To the users of Lebanon Church Road with whom I must co-mingle on my way to and from work every day: Grow up and learn how to drive. Holy hell are you people bad at it. Maintain your speed! Use turn signals! Get the eff out of the fast lane if you’re not going to go fast or use it to pass slower traffic.

    4.) When going through an intersection in which you have a green light DO NOT SLOW DOWN AS YOU GO THROUGH! Green indicates that you should go. So go. Don’t stop, don’t slow down, just goooooooo.

    I totally understand PittGirl’s plight, and I understand how she feels. Driving here sucks, and the people are what make it so bad. The tunnels do not expand and contract. You will not die. If you slam on your brakes, you might die because someone may hit you. Oh, and I love when people won’t pass trucks or buses. If you’re afraid, that’s OK. But get BEHIND them so people who want to get to work on time CAN pass them.



  25. PGH33
    February 29, 2008 1:52 pm

    Obviously, Pittsburgh shouldn’t even be compared to cities like DC. They’re a lot bigger than we are so obviously they are going to have a lot more traffic. It’s a bigger region all-around between DC & Baltimore.

    Nothing will completely solve our “traffic problem” because there will always be stupid drivers or any other problem listed…but our roads do need a major upgrade with a couple more lanes added on each side WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY TO USE THEM.

    I agree that we do need a better mass transit system and that the HOV lanes are pretty much the most pointless things we have.

    A solution is not for everyone to move to downtown Pittsburgh. Believe it or not…people will still need to drive the Parkway East, West, and North wherever you live. Those roads aren’t just for commuters coming in and out of the city.



  26. Erik
    February 29, 2008 3:21 pm

    I’m going to be stoned nigh unto death for saying this, but here goes. PITTSBURGH DOES NOT HAVE BAD TRAFFIC. Trust me. I grew up in Seattle. I’ve lived in Boston and I now live in Cincinnati. Traffic in Pittsburgh is blissful compared to all of those places.



  27. Jim
    February 29, 2008 5:58 pm

    Yeah Pittsburgh has HORRIBLE traffic…. compared to North Dakota :P.



  28. niceguybob
    February 29, 2008 10:18 pm

    when you choose to work in the city, you choose to put up with the traffic.



  29. BurgherinArkansas
    February 29, 2008 11:16 pm

    I live in Little Rock and just laugh to myself when people around here complain about “traffic”. Traffic to Little Rockers is when there are four cars in front of you at a red light….or when there are just a lot of cars on the highway going 10 mph less then the speed limit….So my commute took 12 minutes instead of 10. But yet I would do anything to move back to the Burgh!



  30. mrs_pitsberger
    March 1, 2008 10:07 am

    I live in the eastern suburbs, work in the Strip and I NEVER, EVER, EVER use the Parkway East. I would rather have my toenails yanked out one by one with a pair of needle nosed pliers than sit in traffic for two hours everyday.