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Development & Transportation

Ice Storm Causes Chaos For Pittsburgh Commuters

Michael Lynch
90.5 WESA

Update: 11:35 a.m.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is reporting that as of 11:30 a.m. light rail service has been restored to all lines. Riders should still anticipate 10 to 15 minute delays as the Port Authority works to restore its regular schedule.

Bus shuttles that have been providing service for Blue Line-Library riders will end at noon. 

Update: 11:11 a.m.

As of 10:45 a.m., the Port Authority of Allegheny County is operating limited light rail service on the Red Line and Blue Line-South Hills Village. Cars are running about 25 to 30 minutes apart on both lines, according to the Port Authority.

Service remains down on Blue Line-Library as employees work to restore it. Shuttle buses are operating between Library and Washington Junction, where riders can transfer to light rail. 

Original post: 10:36 a.m.

Whether you were waiting for the T, riding the bus, or testing your luck in your own vehicle, getting around in Western Pennsylvania became a dangerous ordeal Wednesday morning as a freezing rain and snow encased the region in a layer of ice.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) was forced to partially shut down its light rail transit services this morning due to ice buildup on overhead wires. Several cars ran through the night to cut down on ice accumulation, but even those cars got stuck, said PAT spokesman Jim Ritchie.

“At this point, we still do not have full service on either of the blue lines and we don’t have full service on the red line either—just limited,” he said.

Partial service was restored to both the blue and red lines around 6:30 a.m.

Ritchie said the red line is running roughly every 25 to 30 minutes and he hopes both lines will be back to full service by the afternoon rush hour.

Shuttle buses are operating along the blue line between Library and Washington junction where riders can transfer to the red line.

Public buses are having their own problems dealing with the winter weather. Ritchie said the buses have been able to work with the icy roads, but are having difficulties keeping up with scheduling.

“Riders in some areas might have experienced a very minimal delay of maybe five to 10 minutes,” he said. “And in other areas, where roads might have been worse, the delay could have been 30 to 45 minutes.”

The majority of state roads were cleared early this morning, but some back roads still have a layer of slush, according to PennDOT District 11 spokesman Steve Cowan.

PennDOT has lifted all speed limit reductions on its roadways. Speed limits were reduced to 45 mph on highways including interstates 79, 279, 376 and 579, as well as routes 22, 28, 30, 43, 119 and 219 this morning.

Despite the slick conditions, Cowan said there weren’t many accidents reported last night.

“There were very few incidents overnight,” he said. “Most of the roadways heading into the Pittsburgh region are congested, but not as heavily as a normal workday.”

Cowan added that PennDOT District 11 has plenty of road salt to make it through the storm and the state is in the processes of “replenishing” the supply.

According to the Pittsburgh International Airport, nearly 30 arriving and departing flights were canceled today.