Summer roadwork abounds

July 21, 2013
Construction workers pour cement on the overpass at the south junction of Interstates 79 and 70 recently as traffic moves along underneath. The flyover ramp is expected to open by November. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

If you have driven anywhere in Washington and Greene counties this summer, chances are you have encountered an orange barrel or “roadwork ahead” sign.

From east to west and north to south, there are plenty of projects keeping the state Department of Transportation and its contractors busy.

While some projects will wrap up in a few weeks, others will stretch into 2014.

One of the projects that is not expected to be done until July 2014 is the work to reconfigure the Eighty Four interchange of Interstate 70. But work on the $26 million project is progressing, said Scott Faieta, assistant construction engineer for PennDOT.

“Three of the four ramps are built,” Faieta said. “The game plan is to get everything done on Interstate 70 this year and then work to widen Route 519 next year.”

The westbound side has two new structures to carry traffic over Route 519 while work on the eastbound structures should be done later this year. Work planned for 2014 includes a new box culvert on Route 519 near the truck stop. Traffic in that area will be down to one lane, controlled by a signal.

Traffic signals also will be installed in the areas of the new ramps.

Heading a few miles west, work to construct the flyover ramp at the south junction of I-70 and Interstate 79 is on schedule, Faieta said.

“The flyover will eliminate the curve around the wall to take northbound I-79 to I-70 westbound,” Faieta said. “Eighty percent of the bridge is complete. By November, I expect the new flyover will be open to traffic.”

The project will be completed in November 2014 after two bridges that take I-70 over the junction are repaired. Work on the project began in late 2011.

A $1.8 million project to replace a bridge that takes Sheffield Street over I-70 at the Jessop Place exit in Canton Township is ahead of schedule. Faieta expects that bridge to be open by Nov. 1, if not sooner.

On Interstate 79, work on the project to make a full interchange at Meadow Lands is nearly complete. Manifold Road opened to traffic last month, and Faieta expects all of the work to be done by the end of July. Four sets of traffic signals at the ramps and on Pike Street, Locust Avenue and Manifold are now operational.

The project was to have been completed in 2012, but utility work delays pushed back the work.

Continuing north on I-79, work is being done to repair and repave the southbound side of the highway between the Canonsburg and Houston exits. Faieta said the work includes removing bad concrete slabs and replacing those. A four-inch asphalt overlay also will be put down on the highway. The northbound side was done last year.

A major undertaking on local roads is the Valleybrook Road project in Peters Township, which started earlier this summer, Faieta said. The $5.5 million project was to have started last year, but some right-of-way issues delayed the work.

Faieta said the intersection with Route 19 will be rebuilt, necessitating a detour through July 2014. The ramp from Valleybrook will be moved to the north. There will be five lanes on the ramp and extra lanes to turn onto Valleybrook.

“We want to prevent the backlog of traffic on Valleybrook and filter traffic through more quickly,” Faieta said.

Three box culverts will be replaced on Route 136 between just east of the Springhouse in North Strabane Township and Brownlee Road in Somerset Township. The structures will be replaced, one at a time, starting in early August with the bridge near the Springhouse.

“Originally, the contractor was going to have 45 to 50 days to do the work,” Faieta said. “But because of the concerns of business owners and others in the area, the schedule has been accelerated and work has to be done in 28 days.”

In Washington, work on one phase of the Route 19 improvement project will wrap up later this year as work on the remaining phase gets ready to start next month.

After reconstructing one side of College Street, work has switched to the other side, Faieta said. That project should be done in October. Lincoln Street was completed in 2012.

Work will begin next month on the remaining part of the project with drainage work and repaving the road on Murtland Avenue near the state police barracks to near Central Avenue off Ridge Avenue. Four buildings will be demolished this year to allow for reconfiguring the intersection of Ridge, Locust Avenue and College Street.

In Greene County, Allison Park Contractors was awarded a $3.75 million contract to replace four bridges at various locations on Routes 18 and 21.

Two of the bridges are in Freeport Township: one at Golden Oaks Road, two miles north of Garrison, and the other, a half-mile north of the Route 21/18 junction. Another is on Route 21 in Gray Township, a half-mile east of Graysville, while the fourth is at Route 2019 in Cumberland Township (Ceylon Road between Ullery Road and Route 1019).

Construction is being done in phases on Route 21 east of Graysville and on Route 18 near the southern state line. A single lane is available to motorists through the work zones with traffic controlled by temporary signals.

It is anticipated the completion date for these projects is Jan. 6, 2014.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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