Driving around Pittsburgh…

Let me start by saying that I really did love the years that I spent living in Pittsburgh.  It is my adopted home town considering I lived there for over a decade.  I loved going to college there.  I loved being a young adult there.  I loved the sports there (still do).  I loved the different neighborhoods there.  I loved the architecture there.  But I never, ever loved driving there.

Pittsburgh is a city that was designed by a bunch of drunken, retarded monkeys.  Someone must have given them booze and pencils and commanded them to create the various roads, bridges and tunnels.  There is no possible way that the city was planned by sober human beings.  I also firmly believe that the planning and scheduling of road/bridge/tunnel construction is done by the great-great, in-bred, offspring of the drunken retarded monkeys.  There is no other possible way to explain the Pittsburgh roadways.

Yesterday we left Cleveland, which is the #1 dying city in the country, with relative ease.  Hardly any traffic congestion even through the construction zones.  The Cleveland area hardly ever has horrific driving conditions, even during lake effect snow storms.  Sure, sometimes traffic will get backed up by a large accident, but all of the main highways have three or four lanes, so you can almost always get around the accidents.  The only real slow downs are caused by people wanting to see the accident as they drive by as slow as possible.  Driving in and around Cleveland is kind of easy for a big city.  Even with pot holes and construction, this city is easy to traverse.

We took the Ohio/Pennsylvania turnpike after we got out of Cleveland.  There was hardly any traffic on the turnpike, which was nice.  I didn’t really see much construction in either OH or PA on our way going east.  We got off of the turnpike in Cranberry, PA and hooked up with I-79 South.  Construction and some minor slow downs.  We then hooked up with I-279 South, heading into Pittsburgh from the area known as the North Hills.  Generally speaking, you should take this road at night because it gives you a brilliant view of the emerging city as you get closer and closer, although the best “opening shot” is through the Fort Pitt tunnels, night or day.

Anyway, there was a ton of construction on 279 South.  The regular lanes were closed off and we were directed through the HOV lanes.  The HOV lanes are just two lanes which most of 279 (north and south) are three lanes, which caused some of the bottle neck effect.  We took 279 to the Veterans Bridge, at which point it becomes 376 East.  It was already 4:00 on a Friday and a Steelers game day, so I wanted off of the Parkway and onto the side streets.  I intended to get off the Parkway downtown, near the Civic Arena (Go Pens!) but traffic was so thick that I couldn’t get over.

If you can’t get off of the Parkway at that point you get stuck in the swirling vortex that is the Liberty Bridge/Tunnel.  It is a notorious traffic hell hole in Pittsburgh.  And of course, we got stuck in it on a Friday during rush hour.  Bastards.  That lost us about 30 minutes, just sitting idle in traffic.  Once I navigated through it, I thought I could just continue on 376 E to the Blvd of the Allies in Oakland.  Not the worst thing in the world since it is a very nice view of the city.

What I didn’t know, but probably should have expected, is that the Blvd of the Allies was closed for construction, which meant I couldn’t take that exit.  And by not being able to take that exit, I was not able to hit the proper side roads to catch the Hot Metal Bridge from Oakland (Go Pitt!) over to the South Side.

That’s a picture of the Hot Metal Bridge, taken from NOT the road I needed to be on.  So we just passed it on by, continuing on 376 E, heading towards Monroeville.  This has to be the worst stretch of road in the United States.  It is a three lane highway that feeds into a two lane tunnel in Squirrel Hill.  Time comes to a complete standstill on this road.  In my 10+ years living in Pittsburgh, I avoided this stretch of road unless it was 4:00 in the morning, which is the only time cars are able to move at speeds higher than 2 mph.

While I was having mini strokes brought on by trying to navigate Pittsburgh, S thought it would be fun to document our detour hell in pictures.  What she didn’t know at the time was that I was seriously considering driving all the way out to Monroeville on 376 E so that I could hook back up with the turnpike and get us back to the sanity that is, sadly enough, Cleveland.  One more detour sign and I was totally going to pull the trigger on my escape route.

This is a picture that gives you the essence of Pittsburgh.  Lots of hills and winding side roads with houses built into the hills. 

Thankfully I was able to get off of 376 E in Squirrel Hill (the best neighborhood in the ‘Burgh), but that meant I had to meander my way through Homestead, which nobody should ever have to do.  It also meant that I had gone way past where I needed to be and so had to double back, once I got across the river.  Homestead is depressing.  Here is the photographic proof:

After we did the Homestead meander, we finally made it to the S Family home.  Now, I would like to remind you that we got into Pittsburgh proper at 4:00 pm.  We finally got to our destination at 5:45 pm.  That is just sad.  And it all stems from a poorly designed city.

The great reward for our perseverance was giving Mr. S his birthday t-shirt:

Mr. S is a fisherman.  He loves to fish and he owns a dozen fishing t-shirts, but until yesterday, he didn’t own one that said “Feeling Crappie“.  We also gave him a Crocodile Dundee movie set that contains all three Dundee movies.  Honestly, I didn’t even know it was a trilogy.  He seemed thrilled.

However, I think his favorite gift was this:

It is a Steelers astro-turf can coozie, given to him by el Jeffe.

And no birthday party would be complete without a picture of the S Family wiener dog, Leopold.

I shall conclude with a brief summation:  Pittsburgh sucks if you are in a car.  Dundee Trilogy?  Can coozie good.  Leopold is old.


3 Responses

  1. I love driving around here… I guess when your raised here you know what your doing. Peace.

    • I actually lived in Pittsburgh for about a decade. It was difficult to get used to all of the one-way streets. But I managed fine while I was there. It is the visiting now, and not having road closing updates on the nightly news that gets me.

  2. I live in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, a typically average laid-out grid pattern city with many freeways. I drive the 15 hours from here to Pittsburgh (it used to be 12 hours when I lived in Iowa) on average once a year for by far the primary purpose to drive around and explore Pittsburgh’s amazing streets. I absolutely love the streets – particularly the hilly city neighborhoods – and can drive around them all day and not get bored. I love the run-down old houses too. For these reasons, the Burgh is my favorite city in the US!

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