Driving in Pittsburgh is stressful. Just ask any rush-hour commuter or urban weekend warrior. While it might not be as overtly perilous as driving a long haul on the ice highway in Alaska, driving in Pittsburgh has its own unique challenges.
With three rivers to deal with, bridges and tunnels are abundant. Pittsburgh drivers can be erratic – either too aggressive or too polite – and some of the roads are just plain dangerous or downright neglected. But which are the most dangerous roads in all of Pittsburgh? Here are the worst of the worst that made their way to our top five.
1. Carson Street: Danger hidden in plain sight
Winding its way along the Monongahela, Carson Street is at the heart of Pittsburgh’s colorful South Side, which is known for its distinctive Victorian architecture. The multitude of restaurants, shops, bars, and art galleries keep the neighborhood humming at all hours.
East Carson Street may be known as the “Great American Main Street,” but its traffic is no walk in the park. In fact, both East Carson Street northbound and West Carson Street northbound are among the most dangerous roads in the Burgh. A man walking on West Carson Street was struck and killed in the early days of 2023. In fact, in 2017 West Carson Street and West End Bridge was named the most dangerous intersection in Pittsburgh. Whether that intersection remains the most dangerous, we don’t know – but we do know the bridge on West Carson is the most dangerous in the city today.
2. Penn Avenue: The art of playing it safe
Penn Avenue/Washington Boulevard northbound and Washington Boulevard/Penn Avenue southbound are notorious for car crashes, injuries, and even several deaths. A pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run accident as he was crossing Penn Avenue in the Point Breeze neighborhood in April 2023. A woman was injured three months later when she was struck by a car that ran up onto the sidewalk on Penn Avenue near Ellsworth Avenue in East Liberty. Just months before, there was a recent rollover crash at Penn Ave and Centre Avenue, just one-tenth of a mile west on Penn, also in East Liberty.
Penn Ave/Washington Boulevard meanders between being a state and a county road, depending what part of it you are on. This means the laws and levels of infrastructure will also be inconsistent. PennDOT has been working to upgrade more roadways to accommodate cyclists. But the current grab bag of roadways adds to the confusion for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.
3. U.S. Route 22: The William Penn Highway
A motorcyclist died in a crash on Old William Penn Highway just outside of Pittsburgh in Murrysville a few years ago. A woman was killed in autumn 2022 when her SUV was struck by a flatbed tractor-trailer hauling a concrete beam on William Penn in Salem Township. A police car flipped over in an accident with another vehicle at Rodi Road in Churchill in the summer of 2022. About a year later, an out-of-control SUV plowed straight into the back of a dump truck traveling westbound on William Penn. It also struck a pick-up truck and closed down part of the highway.
The William Penn Highway is one of the oldest in the country. It was once part of the U.S. Joint Board on Interstate Highways’ plan for the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway (PPOO) to promote roadway travel from New York City to San Francisco in the early 1900s. Today, it makes history as one of the most dangerous roads in Pittsburgh. It’s safe to say this is not what our forefathers on the Joint Board on Interstate Highways imagined in their plans for the historic route.
4. Forbes Avenue: Nothing short of a nightmare, say drivers
The stories of accidents on Forbes Avenue are seemingly endless.
A motorist was exiting the Crosstown Boulevard onto Forbes when he crashed into a wall in early 2020. The damage was so severe he had to be extracted from the vehicle by firefighters. In yet another incident, a motorcyclist was recently killed in a crash involving another vehicle on South Braddock and Forbes in East End. Apparently, the peril is nothing new as a vintage picture from 1954 captured the moment when a streetcar and a local delivery van collided.
Perhaps there’s no tale more legendary than the infamous collapse of Fern Hollow Bridge. Multiple vehicles including a Port Authority bus tumbled to the bottom of the ravine in the historic accident that took place in Frick Park in 2022. The incident was a call to reassess the nation’s aging infrastructure.
5. Fifth Avenue: Five miles of danger
Fifth Avenue is not only one of the longest streets in Pittsburgh. It’s also one of the most dangerous, with a variety of crashes strewn over its more-than-five-mile span where no one is safe. A Pitt student was drunk driving when he crashed his car into another vehicle as well as the University Bookstore on Fifth Avenue. Speeding was involved in a Fifth Avenue hit-and-run accident that left a pedestrian hospitalized with a head injury. The incident occurred in the 900 block in Downtown Pittsburgh. In 2020, a University of Pittsburgh student was hit and killed by a Port Authority bus on Fifth Avenue at Oakland near the hospital.
A Penn Hills paramedic died after a car crash at Fifth Avenue and Morewood Avenue in Shadyside in late 2022, and it wasn’t the first time someone had died at that intersection. Also in Shadyside, a Jeep struck and severely injured a local cycling advocate, smashing out most of her teeth. It’s no wonder there are calls to reform this infamous stretch of road.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, Carmody & Ging, Attorneys at Law can help. Our lawyers can handle all types of accident cases, from head-on crashes to T-bones to rollovers. Maybe you were in a taxi or an Uber or Lyft. We’ve got you covered there, too. Our Pittsburgh car accident lawyers can walk you through the next steps you need to take to make sure justice is served. What should you say? What shouldn’t you say? We’ll guide you every step of the way. Contact us or call us to set up your free consultation with Carmody & Ging today.