Henderson Avenue to close for bridge removal

August 26, 2014
Motorists who use Henderson Avenue (Route 18) to travel north from Washington will have to find a different route because the road will be closed for construction beginning Sept. 8. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Motorists who regularly travel North Main Street in South Strabane Township and Washington can expect to be joined by more drivers traveling that route next month.

That’s when Henderson Avenue (Route 18) closes between Oak Grove Road in Canton Township and Jefferson Avenue (Route 844) in Washington.

Work is slated to begin Sept. 8 to remove the existing bridge that carried the road across a former rail line, backfill it and replace it with a new section of road. The project is expected to take about two months to complete.

“The bridge will be eliminated,” said Scott Faieta, assistant construction engineer for the state Department of Transportation. “It will knock about seven feet off the knuckle of the road. Drivers coming from Washington will have a more gradual grade going down the hill toward the trailer parks.”

Faieta said the work was originally scheduled for 2011, but was postponed. He said Washington-East Washington Joint Authority had to make adjustments on sanitary sewer lines in the area. He said there also were delays in obtaining rights of way.

The posted detour will take traffic heading from the Hickory area left from Henderson onto Oak Grove. Drivers will then turn right onto North Main, continuing south before making a right onto West Chestnut Street and right onto Jefferson Avenue. Faieta said the detour will be reversed for traffic going from Washington to Hickory. He said Trinity Area and Washington school district officials were notified.

“The road will be open to local traffic,” Faieta said. “Folks, for example, will be able to get in and out of the trailer park. And the road on the other side will be open, so Fairmont Supply has access.”

Washington and South Strabane Township police expect heavier traffic along the detour route.

Washington police Chief Chris Luppino said drivers in Washington will see an increase in traffic. As of late Tuesday morning, he had not been notified of the project.

South Strabane police Chief Don Zofchak expects drivers will find a way around the detour route. He also expects streets like Tyler, Donnan and Maple avenues, as well as Country Club Road, to see more traffic.

“People in this town will adapt,” Zofchak said.

The first work to be done will be by West Penn Power as it relocates four or five utility poles, Faieta said. Once that is done, Verizon and Comcast will do work. Then, actual road work will begin.

Faieta said 13,375 vehicles travel that stretch of Henderson on a daily basis. The $748,499 project being done by Frank Gavlik and Sons of Charleroi is scheduled to be done Nov. 14.

That is not the only project slated to start in the coming weeks. Work will start after Labor Day weekend on a $7.7-million project to improve a section of Interstate 70 west of Washington from the West Chestnut Street in North Franklin Township to the Taylorstown exit in Buffalo Township.

Approximately eight miles of road will be improved with patching, milling, resurfacing, bridge repair, inlet work, signs, guard rail and other construction.

Nighttime restrictions will be in place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., Sunday nights through Friday mornings. No work will be done on Friday or Saturday nights.

Single-lane restrictions will be in place on I-70, east of Washington, starting Sept. 8 through Oct. 1. The work will be done between the Eighty Four (Route 519) interchange to one mile west of the Interstate 79 interchange in South Strabane.

The night-time restriction will be between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. The restrictions will occur in both directions, one direction at a time. Crews will drill core samples at various depths in both the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-70.

Faieta said the drilling is being done in preparation for the eventual reconstruction of the highway between the Eighty Four and East Beau Street interchanges. The reconstruction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2016 and should last three construction seasons, he added.

Work is also scheduled to start next week on milling and paving of the south junction of Interstate 70 and 79.

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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