PennDOT opens bids on Morrisville project

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WAYNESBURG – The state Department of Transportation opened bids Thursday for the first phase of a project aimed at alleviating traffic congestion on Route 19/21 in Morrisville, Franklin Township.


Work on the project, which includes replacing the bridge and railroad overpass at the west end of Morrisville, is expected to get under way this fall.


PennDOT received nine bids for the project. The apparent low bid was submitted by Gulisek Construction LLC of Mt. Pleasant. The bid was for $15,139,300.


The company’s proposal will be reviewed by the department’s legal staff and its Harrisburg office before a contract is officially awarded, said Jay Ofsanik, PennDOT District 12 spokesman.


A contract is expected to be awarded in about eight weeks, he said. A notice to proceed will then be issued to the contractor and construction can begin. “We expect to see work this fall and into the winter; of course, that depends on the weather,” he said.


The Morrisville project has been discussed and planned for numerous years.


The first phase will involve widening the road from Arch Street to Sugar Run Road to four lanes and includes replacing the railroad overpass and the bridge over Ten Mile Creek, which are two lanes each, with new four-lane structures. Lane and signal modifications also will be made to the Sugar Run Road intersection.


The project originally also included widening the remaining section of road between Sugar Run and the Route 19/21 split. However, several years ago the project was divided into two phases because of funding constraints.


The first phase, which is fully funded, is expected to take two and half to three years to complete and will be done without a regular detour. PennDOT officials have said a detour will be employed only on the few nights when steel bridge beams are being set.


Highway traffic will be maintained during construction by building two lanes of the new bridge next to the old bridge and transferring traffic to the new section while the old bridge is demolished and two new lanes are built in its place.


PennDOT also must maintain rail service and will build a new overpass west of the existing overpass. The new overpass will be used by trains until the original overpass is widened. Both overpasses will remain in place to allow Norfolk Southern to operate two tracks in the area.


The only building that will be displaced by the project is the McDonald’s Restaurant at Sugar Run Road. The restaurant is expected to relocate in the area.


Phase one of the project is expected to help alleviate traffic bottlenecks by giving eastbound traffic turning right onto Sugar Run Road a dedicated turning lane. It also will address the biggest hurdles in the overall project, the replacement of the bridge and overpass.


Resolving the traffic tie ups completely, however, may require completion of the second phase. Until that is done, the road from Sugar Run to the Route 19/21 split will remain one lane in each direction with a center turning lane.


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