PennDOT to retain partial I-70 Bentleyville interchange

March 14, 2014
The eastbound off ramp to Route 917 from Interstate 70, left, and the westbound entrance ramp, at right, will survive as part of $50 million in improvements to the highway in the Bentleyville area. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The Federal Highway Administration has approved retaining a partial Interstate 70 interchange at Bentleyville, where a major construction project is about to begin on that stretch of highway.

Two ramps will be eliminated, however, at that intersection of I-70 and Route 917 in order to improve safety by widening the highway and lengthening the exit and entrance lanes at two back-to-back Bentleyville interchanges at a cost of nearly $50 million, said Valerie Petersen, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, said “we were all trying very hard” to keep two ramps open at Route 917 after many local residents opposed initial plans to eliminate the entire Route 917 interchange.

Solobay said he was “very pleased” to learn Friday the partial interchange will be constructed.

“I guess we did good in our request,” he said as PennDOT made plans for a public meeting in Bentleyville to present its design for the project.

PennDOT needed FHA approval for the Route 917 section because the federal government no longer allows interchanges, such as the Route 917 interchange and the one at Wilson Road in Bentleyville, to be that close to each other. The two at Bentleyville are one mile apart.

The department will advertise for bids from contractors interested in the project June 15, Petersen said.

The plan also calls for the replacement of the I-70 bridge over Pigeon Creek and replacement of the Route 917 overpass.

PennDOT in January said it considered building a roundabout at the I-70 interchange at Wilson Road.

The public meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. March 25 in the Bentleyville Volunteer Fire Department social hall, 900 Main St.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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