Well, sort of. The buzz around town on the news & radio lately has been about a survey by a GPS data company called INRIX that calls the sweet spot from Greentree to the Fort Pitt tunnels on the Parkway West here in the ‘Burgh the worst traffic outside of New York or Los Angeles. Read the Post-Gazette article for all the juicy details. Here’s an excerpt…
According to INRIX, it takes an average of 13 minutes — nine more than it should — to traverse that stretch. That doesn’t count the time it takes to get there, as morning backups now routinely spill well down the back side of Green Tree Hill and sometimes past Carnegie.
At a delay of nine minutes a day, for a regular commuter that works out to about 36 hours a year down the rat hole, just for the morning rush. According to INRIX, drivers on the 10 worst U.S. corridors may squander up to 60 hours a year stuck in traffic.
Those who while away their mornings in the daily tangle might be inclined to dream of a wider Parkway West or new tunnels drilled through Mount Washington, but financial and topographic realities make that a bit like yearning for world peace.
The guys on the X were talking about it yesterday morning, so I sent Bob a link to my Tunnel Monster blog. Bob posted it on their morning show blog & I’ve been getting mad hits today because if it. Ha ha. Thanks guys!
From: Waldo Lunar <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Feb 27, 2012
Subject: The Pittsburgh Tunnel Monster (Mythbusters & Dirty Jobs team-up?)
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Duke of Dirt and Sultans of Science (or Emperors of Explosions?),
I’m a big fan of both of your shows, I believe that I have been watching since the first season of each, and have seen almost all (if not all) of the collective episodes. My wife & I enjoy the Saturday morning/afternoon marathon runs of each, sometimes they prevent us for doing anything productive (except learning while being entertained of course) for most of the day. My favorite Dirty Jobs moment has to be an early one… where Mike was at the charcoal factory & asking the guy how you can burn it after it has already been burned and the guy either didn’t know the answer or comprehend the question and started to get irate. It set the tone for the rest of the series! Of course I love all the dirty gross stuff like expressing the anal glands during pet grooming… who knew? Having worked an assembly line myself, I really appreciate that you manage to shed light on jobs that most people never even think about (or know existed). With Mythbusters, I don’t know how to pick a favorite… I loved the ninja & pirate myths, the ancient mirror laser thing, all of the movie scene recreations (or attempted recreations), the many abuses of Buster, and for some odd reason… the car filled entirely with A/B foam.
If I’m not watching the Discovery Network, I’m over on the History Channel. My wife likes to remind me that we have about 200 other channels. I don’t need them, really.
I first attempted this (intentionally humorous) pitch to the people over at history with MonsterQuest or MysteryQuest in my sights. I had assumed I’d receive some sort of “Yeah, whatever goofball” type of reply. Sadly I have not received any reply at all.
The more I thought about it, I feel that this is a serious subject. It would work for Mythbusters… not sure how you could word the myth… but basically your task would be to get to the bottom of seemingly inexplicable tunnel traffic/congestion. You could look at how people slow down when approaching, how throwing a roadside distraction (like a car accident) in there would effect things?
As for Mr. Rowe, I’m sure that working in a tunnel is a dirty job. There are nightly cleanings/work in the Liberty tubes some times… and someone sets out traffic cones every day for the changing of a lane’s direction when going into/coming out of the tunnel. I’m also guessing that being a Mythbuster (or one of their crew) is a dirty job. Pittsburgh is a little Hollywood lately, why not capitalize on it by coming to check out our little town? I know Grant & Tori were at the Zabmelli firework factory in New Castle once!
Did you see the incredibly forced Pawn Stars/American Pickers/American Restoration crossover? You guys could do way better than that, and it would be unscripted.
Here’s the meat of my original email…I believe that we have a monster in the Pittsburgh area that you may want to check out. It’s affectionately referred to as the Tunnel Monster. People in the southwestern Pennsylvania area live in a great fear of the Tunnel Monster. Many yinzer drivers slow down as they approach any area tunnel… but most especially the Fort Pitt Tunnels, Liberty “Tubes”, and the Squirrel Hill Tunnels. I’ve heard theories that the tunnel monster also perhaps takes shelter in one or all of the three rivers when not lurking in the tunnel.
Fear seems to increase in times of rain, snow, and (perhaps strangely) before sporting events, holiday festivities, and large concerts. I believe we have weekday tunnel anxiety between 7:00am & 9:00am, and again from 2:00pm to 7:00pm at all tunnels. I’ve never heard a first-hand account of an actual sighting, but it’s clear that there is something strange happening at these locations. There are also spikes of Tunnel Monster fear when traffic accidents happen nearby. Perhaps the tunnel monster feeds on broken down cars, flat tires, or the corpses left in the wake of fatal accidents? Rubberneckers seem to be ripe for the picking also.
I have personally seen 18-wheelers get to the entrance of a tunnel and turn completely around, most likely out of fear of the tunnel monster perhaps lurking within the yellow-hued florescent-lit man made caverns. Some people go through the entire length of a tunnel holding their breath so the tunnel monster doesn’t steal it, or honking their horn the entire way to scare it off. I’ve seen motorcycles and ambulances go right down the center line at accelerated speeds, no doubt trying to avoid a tragic end. I’ve even heard of people tapping the roof of their car when spotting a Padiddle to ward off the evil tunnel monster. The theory perhaps being that the tunnel monster is on the hood of the other car, and its webbed fin (a paddle or “padiddle”) is blocking one headlight.
I have seen strange markings on the inside of they Liberty Tunnels, but they have since been covered-over. They were strange numbers and hieroglyphic-like symbols that appeared right before a construction project. Do you think the crews working in the tunnel are in any danger? Perhaps it’s a conspiracy? Are they in there hunting for the tunnel monster under the guise of construction efforts while they cover up the monster’s cave paintings? Could the monster be some sort of Neanderthal, or perhaps a supernatural being, or some sort of demon?
There are countless videos on YouTube documenting fearless drives through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, but I don’t believe that any concrete video evidence has been recorded. I have attached some artist renderings of the Tunnel Monster that I have found on the internet. Perhaps you would like your experts to interview the area residents and come up with your own?
I really would like someone to get to the bottom of this Tunnel Monster thing, and I believe that Monster Quest is perfectly suited for the job! Thank you for your time, I hope to hear from you soon!
So, now you know where my thought process has gone, & how it has developed. I’d love your consideration for this idea. Please don’t make me turn to TV shows that I don’t watch like Billy the Exterminator or Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you!
Not afraid of the Tunnel Monster,
I tried message boards, email addresses, all kinds of outlets… all to no avail. Party poopers.
Maybe this will get a reply:
Should I try PennDOT or the city of Pittburgh next?
- In search of the Tunnel Monster… (aixelsyd13.wordpress.com)
- Tunnel Monster ☠ Artist Renderings (aixelsyd13.wordpress.com)
- Goofy Search Terms (aixelsyd13.wordpress.com)
- Most congested highway outside of LA and NY in…Pittsburgh? (holykaw.alltop.com)
- Parkway West Named One Of Country’s Most Congested Roads (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
- Parkway West Traffic Ranks Among U.S.’s Worst (essentialpublicradio.org)
- Mild Winter Leads To Early Road Construction Season (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
- Study: Traffic congestion is down nationwide, but at a cost (cnn.com)
- Squirrel Hill Tunnel Renovations Begin Tonight (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
- Seattle traffic 7th-worst in nation: Study (bizjournals.com)