Good news/bad news

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

If you follow me on Twitter you know that good news/bad news is my son’s favorite way of delivering news to me.


Mom, the good news is the dog puked.

That’s GOOD NEWS?! What’s the bad news?!

He puked on your bed.

Mom, the bad news is that I broke your window blinds.

What’s the good news?

There is no good news.

Mom, the bad news is I was chasing sis and she tripped and hit her face.

What’s the good news?

She’s only bleeding a little.

I’m not making that up. It is tres annoying. Did I use that right or did I just say “three annoying?”

Anyway, the GOOD news is that in five years, drivers who approach the Squirrel Hill Tunnels won’t feel the incredible urge to slam on their brakes, creating all manner of unnecessary traffic hell.

I’d like to pause a moment here to pat myself on the back for the fact that, when I can, I speed up right before and all the way through the tunnels to make up for all of you SCAREDY CAT NIMRODS WHO CHOOSE TO BRAKE. I’ve been known to fly through the Squirrel Hill tubes upwards of 75 miles per hour and then slow down just before I exit, because I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket and I don’t plan to change that. [back pat]

The BAD news is that we’re looking at three construction cycles, THREE YEARS, of lane restrictions and weekend closures of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels. The tunnels that link the Parkway East to downtown. The Parkway East that doubles as a long parking lot at the oddest intervals known to man.

Mother of God.

Someone needs to write SyFy about this, because this is a horror movie in the making.

Call it The Good News is We Found the Tunnel Monster and We’re Going to Kill It; The Bad News is YOU Are the Tunnel Monster.

I’ll be the civil engineer who gets to give the kill order by saying, without emotion, “It looks like we need to show them …  that this tunnel … [sunglasses] has no light at the end.  YEAHHHHHHHHH!”


  1. Erik
    July 1, 2010 11:41 am

    and the worse news is Parking rates are going to skyrocket!

  2. JustCele
    July 1, 2010 11:44 am

    It is impossible right now for me to find the words to describe how I feel about the construction process for the tunnels. And who is going to guarantee that the Tunnel Monster will actually be killed during this process? I’ll bet people will STILL slow down at the entrance (making me crazy!!) when the process is finished!

  3. Jim Kiley
    July 1, 2010 11:47 am

    Y’know, I’m okay with this, but if they’re going to spend three years screwing up the traffic patterns anyway, how about they fix the outbound Squirrel Hill interchange while they’re at it? If that sucker isn’t the worst onramp in America I don’t know what is.

  4. stephen
    July 1, 2010 11:48 am

    Don’t kid yourself. Three contruction cycles means five years. Then you might get a season off before they have to close it down again for another year for “routine maintenance and repair.”

    I know the workers themselves work hard and all that, but how PennDOT has managed to go this long without someone being charged with outright fraud or incompetence is a testament to the power of the embedded state government.

  5. T
    July 1, 2010 11:54 am

    Well I got really nervous when I read the heading to this post. I thought you were going to say CSI Miami was cancelled or Horatio wouldn’t be back next season. Yeesh.

    BTW.. how is this construction going to kill the tunnel monster? That is so F’ing annoying..

  6. unsatisfied
    July 1, 2010 12:01 pm

    so, penndot is going to spend $60M or so in order to have people feel like they no longer have to slow down when they enter the tunnels.

    makes perfect sense.

    about as much sense as spending millions of dollars on a subway tunnel under the allgheny river…..but, that horse is done beaten.

    here’s what they need to do:

    – widen the inbound tunnel to accomodate a 3rd lane for those people who need to exit on the other side at the squirrel hill tunnel. and, make people make that choice well ahead of the tunnel so that there isn’t all of that back and forth right before going into/after getting through the tunnel.

    – or, better yet, blow up that stupid squirrel hill interchange altogether and start over. what an embarrassment to engineering — including that ramp that Jim Kiley mentions above. an atrocity.

    – also, blow up and re-build the greenfield bridge and that “diaper bridge” below it that only serves to catch whatever pieces fall off from it. another atrocity. oh, and unsafe.

  7. CC
    July 1, 2010 12:02 pm

    However, they are not going to WIDEN the tunnel only increase the height. They need to do both if it is possible otherwise I do not think the problem will be solved. If the Sq Hill tunnel was comparable to the turnpike tunnels, I think the traffic patterns would improve. And I must agree with #3..fix the on ramp.

  8. facie
    July 1, 2010 12:07 pm

    Somehow I just don’t think making the ceiling taller is going to keep those scared drivers from slowing down.

    If it is any consolation, while driving through WV or VA a few weeks ago, I noticed people slowing down before one of those tunnels. It happened only one time out of four, however.

    Regardless, I can’t remember a time when there was not some type of construction project going on around the Burgh. I really need to get a job with Penn Dot for the job security.

  9. Matt
    July 1, 2010 12:15 pm

    I firmly believe if they would allow passing in the tunnel, you wouldn’t have the traffic problems you have now.

  10. spoon
    July 1, 2010 12:21 pm

    Lokay has a traffic bottleneck boner at the mass hysteria this is going to cause.

    I cant wait for his first report where he looks at the camera and says “Jen, we’re all fucked. Back to you.”

  11. Monty
    July 1, 2010 12:27 pm

    “traffic bottleneck boner” = excellence

  12. Derrick
    July 1, 2010 12:28 pm

    I designed a fix for the Squirrel Hill interchange in high school. Would totally solve that dumb entrance ramp, and wouldn’t involve any land the state doesn’t already own.

    A longer outbound merge and no more cris-cross move with the exiters, either.

    No one cares.

  13. jj
    July 1, 2010 12:34 pm

    @ spoon

    lol! that was awesome!

  14. Dan (Not Onarato)
    July 1, 2010 12:40 pm

    @ Spoon

    Priceless on both accounts!

  15. ErinPatricia
    July 1, 2010 12:48 pm

    Id pay good money to see that Traffic Report on the air.

    Also, I live in Monroeville, many of my friends live in Dormont/Cory/Not the East Subs.

    I wonder when I should plan my I WONT SEE YOU IN THREE YEARS! party?

  16. SpudMom
    July 1, 2010 1:05 pm

    When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I declared to my husband (then fiance) that the civil engineers of this city regularly indulge in crack cocaine. I stand by that assessment.

  17. Lizzy
    July 1, 2010 1:12 pm

    Way to waste the money city – I don’t think it’s the height and lighting that’s the problem for people hitting their brakes – it’s the width!!! Ahhhh (BIG BIG SIGH)!!!!

  18. Cnik
    July 1, 2010 1:40 pm

    Here’s my ‘less-than-$60M-solution’ for the tunnel.

    Install a traffic camera… have it take a pic of the license plate of any car going less than the speed limit up to and thru the tunnel. Then fine their asses if they drive slow and hang up traffic.

    There’s nothing wrong with the tunnel. It’s the drivers that need fixed.

    Here’s my other solution…. expand the T to go from downtown to Squirrel Hill, The waterfront and Monroeville Mall. It would reduce traffic on the East Parkway. And while your at it, expand the T to Ross Park Mall, The Airport and Robinson Mall.

  19. bluzdude
    July 1, 2010 1:42 pm

    I don’t care what they do, people will still hit the brakes for no apparent reason.

    “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” — Douglas Adams

  20. Sleemo
    July 1, 2010 1:43 pm

    Virginia, for someone who (justifiably) opened a can of whoop-ass on an idiot adolescent who got stoned and killed someone in his car, you’re being awfully cavalier about “fly[ing] through the Squirrel Hill tubes upwards of 75 miles per hour and then slow down just before I exit, because I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket and I don’t plan to change that.” Aggressive driving is aggressive driving. God forbid you cause an accident that takes someone’s life; your pious “no-drugs-EVER!” stance won’t be worth beans then.

  21. dand
    July 1, 2010 1:50 pm

    I imagine it’s substantially more expensive to widen a tunnel than to increase its height. I do doubt a height increase would help all that much though.

    I wonder why more rush hour commuters from the east suburbs don’t use the East Busway park&ride in Swissvale or East Liberty. Seems like a no-brainer.

  22. Virginia
    July 1, 2010 1:55 pm


    My attitude toward drugs is not meant to be pious. It is simply how I am. I’m not on a high horse about it.

    This post is humor, and humorous posts on my site use exaggeration. Do you really think if I was that much of an aggressive driver, I’d never have gotten a single ticket in the twenty years I’ve been driving? My record is SPOTLESS.

    Just jokes. Yes, I speed up through the tunnels. Not because I’m trying to REALLY make up for the nimrods who slow down, that was a joke, but because for some reason, tunnels put me in a trance and before I realize it, I’m going 70, and I slow down.

    I hate explaining that my jokes are just jokes, but I guess it’s important that I do sometimes.

  23. PA Girl in VA
    July 1, 2010 1:58 pm

    As someone who lives in the land of tunnels (the underwater kind around Virginia Beach, VA), I must say that I agree that WIDENING the tunnels is a key to assisting all the brake-happy folks who are scared to go into the tunnel. Better lighting – esp. lighting that helps drivers’ eyes adjust to the dark tunnel – is a big help as well. Down here in the land of tunnels, lighting was changed to start out bright but get progressively dimmer. I’ve heard this makes a difference.

    However, I am not one of those scardey cats and prefer to maintain my speed through the tunnels. But my thinking is this: If I WERE afraid to drive through a tunnel, but HAD to do it, I would want to get through it as soon as possible and fly like a bat out of hell through it.

  24. Sleemo
    July 1, 2010 2:16 pm

    Sorry, Virginia; it just seemed like poor timing. I’m probably being oversensitive. The fact that I’m a cautious driver who regularly avoids being creamed by aggressive assholes on the road (usually when I have the kids in the car) doesn’t help.

  25. Allison
    July 1, 2010 2:31 pm

    What about some kind of moving highway? Like the moving walkway in airports? Or like what you get on at an automatic carwarsh — hah I’ll leave that spelling error in, since I’m sure it only came out because of the Pittsburghese I regularly listen to — only wider and easier to enter onto? Then people won’t need to drive, at all; they be shuttled through and have the whole time to prepare for the dismount. That’s probably harder to implement in reality than it seems from the picture in my head…

  26. Joel
    July 1, 2010 2:56 pm


    1. If you get to be “the civil engineer who gets to give the kill order by saying, without emotion, “It looks like we need to show them … that this tunnel … [sunglasses] has no light at the end. YEAHHHHHHHHH!””

    Then I want to be the smart and sassy sidekick (think Riley Poole of National Treasure) who tries to be bad ass and say “Looks like we’re crossing the center line and not comin’ back!”

    2. Please record all of the Good News/Bad News conversations…you’ll make a killing with one of those little coffee table books.

  27. z
    July 1, 2010 3:08 pm

    I have always maintained that Pittsburgh’s slide down the population ladder is due to the fact that you can’t get anywhere from anywhere else. Bridges, tunnels and construction…oh my.

    Seriously, many years ago (when traffic wasn’t nearly as heavy as it is today) the Squirrel Hill on ramp on the outbound side was closed between 4 and 6 p.m. every day. That cut down on the congestion at the tunnel entrance and the weaving in and out of cars trying to change lanes.

    Probably not feasible today, but it was helpful then.

  28. gunnlino
    July 1, 2010 3:42 pm

    Rise in parking rates and ” fixing ” the tunnels ( again ). Two additional reasons not to go into Pixburgh !

  29. Magnus Patris
    July 1, 2010 3:45 pm

    Wow wee, I’m sure glad we live in the North Hills. The only tunnel we have anywhere near us will be ferrying 40,000 drunken Steeler fans to Heinz Field a couple of times a year and get the old blue hair ladies to the casino to spend their Pittsburgh Parking Authority pension checks at the casino. If God wanted us to travel underground, he’d have pre-dug the holes for us. And Ginny, maybe you need to put a disclaimer on your banner saying, “Warning: Humorous content ahead. Possible use of hyperbole and poetic license. No animals were harmed in the making of this blog; well, except for pigeons, and they don’t really count because all they do is shit on everything and spread disease, kind of like rats, but at least rats have the decency to not shit on your head.”

  30. kejad
    July 1, 2010 5:21 pm

    Couple of things:

    a. Put a toll on the tunnels to finance part of the construction and convince a few more suburbanites to stay in the city.

    b. If you’re going to raise the ceilings now, that’s great, but the real answer is to widen them and possibly put a third borehole through with reversible lanes for commuting and special events. Show me that vision, along with a plan to fix the Squirrel Hill world’s-most-retarded interchange, and I’ll support you on some construction shutdowns now.

    c. We all know that raising the ceiling height isn’t going to do s*!# to kill the tunnel monster; it’s the four-feet-wide lanes that slow people down. Raising the ceiling is just a construction job security program to spend tax dollars with nothing to show for it at the end.

    d. I speed up to make up for the tunnel morons, too. I worked in Monroeville and lived in Squirrel Hill for a year, and I regularly hit 80 in the tunnels on the way to and from work.

  31. Traci
    July 1, 2010 6:12 pm

    The solution they are proposing will do NOTHING for the commute. I can’t believe they are willing to mess with traffic to accomplish nothing. I think I need a job sitting around laughing at these fools.

  32. Jen
    July 1, 2010 6:32 pm

    kejad, a toll on the tunnels won’t convince suburbanites to move to the city. it will just convince them to clog the back roads even more (Regent Square & Wilkinsburg) to avoid paying the toll.

    If the transit folks had an ounce of intelligence they would build a light rail or other mass transit line from the east side of the county through downtown to the west. But that makes too much sense, so instead we get a one-way commuter tunnel nobody uses to the south and a money hole with bad wiring to the north.

  33. OldNorthSider
    July 1, 2010 6:43 pm

    Oh no….. Virginia just jinxed herself with the SPOTLESS driving record proclamation! Better let the hubby do all the driving to the beach this summer!

  34. daisyvet
    July 1, 2010 8:46 pm

    PLEASE tell me this SyFy movie will have Mongolian Death Worms in it!

  35. AD
    July 1, 2010 11:03 pm

    Here’s an idea – why spend the money to do anything to the tunnels at all? If you want to come into the City and you don’t want to spend forever doing it, don’t live on the other side of the tunnel! There’s plenty of places in Squirrel Hill, the East End, the North Hills, Bellevue, etc. that you can move to. Seems simple enough, and $60M will rehab a number of our bridges, roads, etc., both in the City and in the ‘burbs, that are already in danger of failing.

  36. GoBobbo
    July 1, 2010 11:59 pm

    Sorry, but adding a foot and making it brighter won’t stop the brake monster.

    The same thing happens on the Fort Pitt Tunnel.

    It’s just people’s fear of the tunnel.

    I’ve never been impressed with the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. I’ll stick to Fort Pitt.

  37. bucdaddy
    July 2, 2010 8:07 am

    I’d say the tunnel project plus the huge increase in parking rates would drive more people to public transportation, which would be a good thing (really, we don’t need to make it easier for people to get around, we need to make it harder), but really, the more successful PAT gets rider-wise, the broker it claims to be. Probably because the bus drivers have to work more and more OT and make ever more money to accommodate more riders …

    Bottom line: This can only end badly.

    Ginny, how does your cheap dad like those parking rates? Would he walk downtown from Monroeville Mall’s parking lot?

  38. Pghmama
    July 2, 2010 8:28 am

    I’m putting up a sign on Braddock Ave politely letting all of the extra traffic know they can and should cut through Milton and Laclair streets! If they thought a treehouse would add to traffic just wait until they see what the tunnel closures will do! And wait…did they protest this project too???

  39. spoon
    July 2, 2010 9:25 am

    It always amazes me that there is so much traffic at tunnels when most yinzers are terrified to go through one or cross a bridge to get anywhere.

    PennDOT, you wanna fix something? How about that stupid merge to a single lane coming off of Vets Bridge to Parkway North or making a ramp to get from 79N to 279S before Wexford? Those should have been installed when you first built it.

  40. Mama Moose
    July 2, 2010 9:46 am

    And all of Edgewood has a simultaneous

    From the repaving of the Ranking Bridge and the rehabing of the Squirrel Hill tunnel, Lord preserve us.

  41. Steverino
    July 2, 2010 10:03 am

    The days of widening roads and building new ones is over. It’s very expensive and there simply isn’t the money. And you can’t widen the tunnel or bore a new one without widening the parkway on the suburban side, which isn’t feasible because it’s all built up to the edge. When the tunnel opened in 1953, there wasn’t anything past Wilkinsburg. The parkway was to be a quick route to the turnpike and ended at Monroeville, where it merged onto 22, which was famland area. We all know what happened next, and now 22 is a mess. The more highways you build, the more congestion you create.

  42. unsatisfied
    July 2, 2010 11:01 am

    maybe pgh’s population slide is a good thing in this instance — can you imagine how much worse it would be at the tunnel if we still had, say, 1975’s population?

    spoon — I’m with ya on the vets bridge issue. but, they won’t put a 79N/279S ramp in there, because that’s what the 79N/parkway west ramp to pgh is for.

    but, the best thing that penndot HAS done (if that is even possible) is adding the 79S/parkway west ramp to the airport — no more 60!!!!

    ok, so, back to the sq hill tunnel. I’ve been through it at 2am before — when it’s nice and dark and you’d think that would be the optimum condition for the tunnel monster. but, I’ve done 75 through it at that time of night. I admit it. and, no monster to be found. damn, it feels good to be a gangsta……

  43. JennyMoon
    July 2, 2010 11:34 am

    Here’s what has happened. When entering in the Fort Pitt tunnels you almost have to slow down because there are so many times where I’ve seen rear-ending accidents and almost rear-ended people myself because for whatever reason people are stopped in the tunnel. So now in order to avoid that possible scenerio you are slowing down to go in the tunnel and creating the other scenerio that causes the back up. It’s a vicious cycle!!!

  44. momofboys
    July 4, 2010 2:10 pm

    @Pghmama – I live on Milton St and am all for the treehouse but not the a@#holes that come flying down my street during rush hour so they can avoid the extra 5 minutes of sitting at a light at Hutchinson. Damn right I don’t want them coming down my street because I have had to call the cops because they are almost going 45 down a residential street.