Like W.C. Fields once said of my home city, I say with all due respect;
I spent a week in Pittsburgh one day.
Actually, I’ll one up W.C. Fields. I spent my week in about 4.5 excruciating hours on the newly closed route 376. (THAT is actually hyperbole, I only spent 2.5 hours on route 376, I spent the other 2 on some one lane goat path.) The same goat path that the brain-trust that run this “city” had the good sense to route those out-of-towners, like myself, that came only to spend money in a Pittsburgh we chose to visit.
And make no mistake, I like Pittsburgh! The people that live there I have met are awesome, the sports tradition is not unlike the one I am used to, great restaurants at affordable prices, (generally I always feel my money goes farther in Pittsburgh), great museums, great zoo, great history etc. This was about my fourth or fifth trip to Pittsburgh. Once again I was able to talk to some of the great locals that make me a fan of the city, and I learned we had ANOTHER thing in common… DISDAIN for the policy makers in the city!!
So as I called on the carpet any city government that would deem a 4-hour traffic jam that spanned less then 5 miles, I was emphatically joined by local Pittsburghers. They too found it ludicrous that one could spend that much time in traffic, in gridlock, in disabled vehicles… and see no signs that ANYONE was even paying attention in an official capacity. No police or fire directing traffic, no signage that 376 was closed, no radio reports alerting motorists, (I come from a city that gives traffic reports every 10 minutes), and no REAL plan how to deal with traffic overflow. The gas station off of exit 11 of 376 west was kind enough to have printed directions how to get “downtown” from there, but I guarantee those were provided at their own expense. Unfortunately, they were NOT directions that were able to deal with the unfortunate convergence of 376 closing, 20,000 Philadelphia Philles fans coming to town, and several college graduation events all the same day. The directions sent us down one lane roads. This is not good for Pittsburgh Tourism!
At times in that traffic jam I felt like the frustrated motorists, especially those out-of-towners were at the breaking point. There were lost of cars making their own lanes for fear of running out of, almost, 4 dollar a gallon PA gas, breaking down, etc. And as that angry mob fended, fender to fender, for themselves… they did it on their own. Nary a police or news presence anywhere. The situation could have turned into some sort of Interstate 376 version of Thunderdome…and the people that run Pittsburgh seemed as though they didn’t care.
An exit of I-95 was closed in Philadelphia for 3 days earlier this year, and it was THE top story on every news outlet. Radio, TV, the papers… How to navigate it, how to avoid it, and clear official detours.
In Pittsburgh? No one seem to notice. The traffic didn’t make the news, or the paper, or even the radio. So now it makes a blog. A blog of some out-of-towner that loves what Pittsburgh tourism has to offer, but thinks who ever is in charge is asleep at the wheel. The people that live there deserve better and so do those who visit Pittsburgh. That would never fly on this side of the state (eastern), it shouldn’t fly in Pittsburgh.