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skycity

Does Pittsburgh feel isolated?

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We all know that Pittsburgh is a really magnificent city with great architecture. The Golden Triangle, with it's density also has that "center of the world" feel. Everyone knows Pittsburgh formed because of it's location on the three rivers and the transportation implications.

However, having traveled to Pittsburgh from east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike recently, I couldn't help thinking that the city feels very isolated. Interstate 80, the major east-west road runs well to the north and the other roads run by but not through the city, with exits into the city. Does anyone think that one of Pittsburgh's challenges is being isolated in the age of the interstate highway?

The rugged terrain is probably responsible for part of this. When you drive around Cleveland on I80 you see suburbs, yet when you drive around Pittsburgh on the PA turnpike (the same distance from the city) you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I'm missing a lot of great little towns that are down in the valleys off the turnpike. However, I couldn't help feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere. Does anyone else feel this way?

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We all know that Pittsburgh is a really magnificent city with great architecture. The Golden Triangle, with it's density also has that "center of the world" feel. Everyone knows Pittsburgh formed because of it's location on the three rivers and the transportation implications.

However, having traveled to Pittsburgh from east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike recently, I couldn't help thinking that the city feels very isolated. Interstate 80, the major east-west road runs well to the north and the other roads run by but not through the city, with exits into the city. Does anyone think that one of Pittsburgh's challenges is being isolated in the age of the interstate highway?

The rugged terrain is probably responsible for part of this. When you drive around Cleveland on I80 you see suburbs, yet when you drive around Pittsburgh on the PA turnpike (the same distance from the city) you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I'm missing a lot of great little towns that are down in the valleys off the turnpike. However, I couldn't help feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere. Does anyone else feel this way?

oh yay... this topic again :whistling:

The fact that no 2-digit major interstates cut through Pittsburgh like they do to Cleveland, Philadelphia, etc is a blessing... We have spur interstates serving the city alleviating the city of all the extra truck traffic that would blast on through. I-70, one of the major interstates in the national system, skirts the southern extremities of the metro, about 30 miles south of the city. I-80 is an hour north via I-79. Of course Pittsburgh is going to seem isolated if you enter from the east... as there is hundreds of miles of beautiful nothingness between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia/DC/Baltimore. However, Pittsburgh is quite close to Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron and Columbus (there is almost non-stop urbanization from Pittsburgh to Chicago/Milwaukee... it's known as the ChiPitts megalopolis in academia... sorta like your BosWash). Even Washington DC is a mere 4 hours away (which probably seems like traveling to Mars to someone from the East Coast... but in the relative scheme of things... isn't that far). It's unfortunate that motorists passing by don't get the chance to see bland cookie-cutter subdivisions out the car windshield like so many other metropolitan interstates... but I suppose that's the price we pay for having interstate highways that are thankfully rather sheltered from centers of population. The hilly topography limits the field of view of a motorist along the highway. That's why you can see Cleveland's 3 skyscrapers from 30 miles out in the middle of the flat barrens of Northeast Ohio... and you can't see Pittsburgh's skyscrapers until you're practically on top of them emerging from the Ft. Pitt Tunnel to create the most dramatic urban entrance in America. And those plastic suburbs? Yeah... we have them too... they're just on the other side of that hill over there.

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I really don't see the Interstate thing as isolation. Interstates run directly through the city, just because they are 3 digit ones doesn't make them any less of an Interstate (though their crapty out dated structures... that's another story). You can barely see the city until you are on top of it because of the hills, that's true. You certainly aren't going to see much from the Turnpike which is 20 miles away, when you can't see the city from hill blocked distance of one mile.

As for the Pitt-Chicago thing, I guess that's true, hadn't thought of it. I tend to think eastward, and have family and friends to the east.. DC, Baltimore and Philly are drivable distances and NYC is doable with just a little more time.

But most of the time, you are in your city. You certainly don't feel isolated in the dense streets of Pittsburgh or even the relatively dense areas like the South Hills etc.

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Interstates run directly through the city, just because they are 3 digit ones doesn't make them any less of an Interstate (though their crapty out dated structures... that's another story).

The difference is that 3-digit interstates are not "through routes"... they are spurs branching out from the 2-digit interstates far outside the city. No one is going to drive through Pittsburgh on the way to somewhere else (which is a contrast to Cleveland, Cincy, etc). If you're taking 376... it's because your destination is Pittsburgh. Not because you're on the way from Philadelphia to St. Louis.

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That's true. I didn't point that out because I thought that it was a given. I can't help but wonder if they were direct 2 digit Interstates.. if maybe they would be updated. One would think so. As they are, the are without a doubt, the worst Interstates in the country.

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I do think the city feels kind of isolated, which has its pros and cons. The upside is the dramatic entrace, and the fact that the city feels sort of like a hidden jewel to me. This may seem like a silly comparison, but if you ever saw that old cartoon TaleSpin where the town was surrounded by mountains and the only way in was through a narrow opening... Pittsburgh almost feels like that to me. I love it.

The downside is that very few people see Pittsburgh unless they are actually coming into the city. Which makes it easier for the negative stereotypes about smog and dirt to continue.

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I remember TaleSpin but I can't picture this city you speak of.

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That's true. I didn't point that out because I thought that it was a given. I can't help but wonder if they were direct 2 digit Interstates.. if maybe they would be updated. One would think so. As they are, the are without a doubt, the worst Interstates in the country.

If you're asking if what is now I-279 and I-376 were ever two digit interstates, the answer is yes they were.

From 1960 to 1963, the Parkway East/West from Monroeville to where its current junction with I-79 is was I-70. Under the original plan, I-70 went north from Washington, PA along what is now I-79 (at that time it hadn't been built yet) to the Parkway and then went along the Parkway to the Turnpike in Monroeville. What is now I-70 between Washington, PA and New Stanton was I-70S. Then in 1963, I-79 and I-76 came into the picture (it was not part of the original plan). I-70 was relocated to where it is now and I-70 took over the proposed route of I-70 to the Parkway and then went along the Parkway West and the then proposed Parkway North and then up to Erie. I-76 started at I-79 at the Golden Triangle and continued on the Parkway East to Monroeville where it then followed the Turnpike to Philly. Prior to I-76, the entire PA Turnpike was I-80S. After I-76 came into being, I-80S was truncated to Monroeville. What is now I-79 between the Parkways West and North was I-279. In 1967, it was decided to switch I-79 and I-279 so I-279 took over the Parkway West/North route and I-79 bypassed the city. I-76 was extended down the Parkway West to meet I-79. Then in 1972, the AASHTO (which governs highway numberings) decided to do away with alphanumeric interstates. As a result, they had to get rid of I-80S. So I-76 was rerouted along the Turnpike west of Monroeville and the Parkway East was renumbered I-376.

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I meant if they were as in now (and for however long) 2 digit Interstate.... I am familiar with some of the history you wrote about that though, but thanks for the details (I didn't know all of it).

So Skycity, does this input makes sense?

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I meant if they were as in now (and for however long) 2 digit Interstate.... I am familiar with some of the history you wrote about that though, but thanks for the details (I didn't know all of it).

So Skycity, does this input makes sense?

There technically isn't any difference between the roads that are 2 digits and those that are 3 digits. The 3 digit indication simply means that they are not mainline interstates (there are some exceptions, of course, like I-476 in eastern PA which really is a mainline but was given that number b/c they didn't have any remaining numbers). However, there isn't a difference in the requirements for the roads, if that's what you mean. All interstates are required to be up to "interstate standards" in order to get that designation (some exceptions here and there).

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Ok, I'm not explaining myself well - I mean if people had to drive through Pittsburgh (hence the Interstates would be 2 digits) - them maybe they would have taken the existing interstates out of the stone age in design.

Aside from the crapty ramps etc, I consider the existing roads to actually dangerous due to their lack of adequate lanes. Yet the put those assinine "don't tailgate" "DUI ZONE" signs every 2 fett, cluttering the roads, making it seem like something urgent is happening up ahead.

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Ok, I'm not explaining myself well - I mean if people had to drive through Pittsburgh (hence the Interstates would be 2 digits) - them maybe they would have taken the existing interstates out of the stone age in design.

My guess is not simply because of the engineering problems with having to deisgn a highway that's wider and yet goes through the tunnels and the bridges. The only way this would work is if they built a bypass for the entirety of the stretch between the Ft. Pitt Tunnels and the Sq. Hill Tunnels. I can't imagine how such a road would go since that would require that it pass on the *south* side of Mt. Washington. This would reuqire that it somehow is able to thread its way across the mountain from the Parkway East to the other side. My guess as to what would have happened is that if the mainline interstates passed through Pgh is that a beltway would have been built to funnel as much of the traffic as possible around the city. In many respects, however, this is pretty mcuh what the city already has with I-79, I-76, and I-70 forming a loop around the metro area. I-70, unfortunately, is a little too far south to form a true southern leg of a beltway. However, if the Southern Beltway is built, that leg would be complete.

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Well, it would be costly, but inbound Pkwy West should split (it would be four lanes inbound) with two lanes flying over towards the west end and link directly with the west end bridge - this would and should be the required route for all trucks as well (they would then go back over the Ft Duquesne bridge - if that is their intended direction).

The pkwy east could split possbly wherever the mon-fayette link is or maybe just split off on in bound exits.

Expensive? very. Extensive? You bet. Necessary? Absolutely.

Both parkways should be 8 lane Interstates. There are other high concern areas, but there is simply no excuse in 2006 why these roads are not up to current conditions/traffic etc.

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oh yay... this topic again :whistling:

The fact that no 2-digit major interstates cut through Pittsburgh like they do to Cleveland, Philadelphia, etc is a blessing... We have spur interstates serving the city alleviating the city of all the extra truck traffic that would blast on through. I-70, one of the major interstates in the national system, skirts the southern extremities of the metro, about 30 miles south of the city. I-80 is an hour north via I-79. Of course Pittsburgh is going to seem isolated if you enter from the east... as there is hundreds of miles of beautiful nothingness between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia/DC/Baltimore. However, Pittsburgh is quite close to Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron and Columbus (there is almost non-stop urbanization from Pittsburgh to Chicago/Milwaukee... it's known as the ChiPitts megalopolis in academia... sorta like your BosWash). Even Washington DC is a mere 4 hours away (which probably seems like traveling to Mars to someone from the East Coast... but in the relative scheme of things... isn't that far). It's unfortunate that motorists passing by don't get the chance to see bland cookie-cutter subdivisions out the car windshield like so many other metropolitan interstates... but I suppose that's the price we pay for having interstate highways that are thankfully rather sheltered from centers of population. The hilly topography limits the field of view of a motorist along the highway. That's why you can see Cleveland's 3 skyscrapers from 30 miles out in the middle of the flat barrens of Northeast Ohio... and you can't see Pittsburgh's skyscrapers until you're practically on top of them emerging from the Ft. Pitt Tunnel to create the most dramatic urban entrance in America. And those plastic suburbs? Yeah... we have them too... they're just on the other side of that hill over there.

How is North East Ohio flat and barren? It is loaded with dense forest. It isn't as hilly as Pittsburgh, but has plenty of river valleys, ravines and hills and sits on the beginning of the Appalachian Plateau. Key, BP and the Terminal Tower are just tall. Columbus on the other hand...

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Few cities are remotely as hilly as Pittsburgh. So for most cities, Cleveland among them, you can see the skyline from a distance because they are essentially FLAT.

Cleveland doesn't need Key to be seen from a distance, it just needs for there not to be the hills of Western PA. You can see Columbus and Dayton from the farmlands that surround them quite well.

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We all know that Pittsburgh is a really magnificent city with great architecture. The Golden Triangle, with it's density also has that "center of the world" feel. Everyone knows Pittsburgh formed because of it's location on the three rivers and the transportation implications.

However, having traveled to Pittsburgh from east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike recently, I couldn't help thinking that the city feels very isolated. Interstate 80, the major east-west road runs well to the north and the other roads run by but not through the city, with exits into the city. Does anyone think that one of Pittsburgh's challenges is being isolated in the age of the interstate highway?

The rugged terrain is probably responsible for part of this. When you drive around Cleveland on I80 you see suburbs, yet when you drive around Pittsburgh on the PA turnpike (the same distance from the city) you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I'm missing a lot of great little towns that are down in the valleys off the turnpike. However, I couldn't help feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere. Does anyone else feel this way?

Lots of cities are like that, even large ones. In North Alabama, Huntsville (whose population doesn't even compare to Pitt's) is sprawling towards the west and you feel like you're in Huntsville when you're about 10 miles out of town. Then you drive over Monte Sano Mountain and there's virtually nothing.

About the interstates. Huntsville, at one point in time, was the largest city in the U.S. not connected to an interstate. You can drive down I-65 and not even know Hville is there. So, Pittsburgh isn't the only "isolated" city.

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