Fall Run Road in Shaler reopens after nearly three years

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Fall Run Road, the popular route for commuters connecting Middle Road and Route 8 in Shaler, quietly reopened to traffic on Aug. 1.

Closed for safety concerns since November 2011, and reduced to one lane three years before that, the once-narrow road has been widened, with many of its “blind bends” straightened out.

“It’s been a real labor of love,” said Shaler engineer Kevin Creagh, whose mother was the first township resident to ride on the widened road.

“She lives up at the top of the hill, and I said, ’Do you want to go for a ride?’ She went on it the day before it opened up.”

Engineers first discovered problems with the two-lane road in August 2007, Mr. Creagh said, and made the route one way in late 2008 after part of the bank near the road collapsed. That rock slide caused the asphalt nearest the cliff to sink and break apart, leaving gaps under the metal guide rail.

Eventually, the integrity of the road, which sits along a steep embankment above the park, was too compromised, Mr. Creagh said. In fall 2011, a large crack ran across the road, and other portions were crumbling.

Township manager Timothy Rogers and others questioned whether the road was necessary at all. They decided it was -- at issue was whether the township could afford it.

In addition to being a popular road for commuters, Fall Run is a crucial route for first-responders, especially for emergency medical personnel, Mr. Rogers said Friday.

“To get to certain areas in the neighborhood, you would have to either go north or south a good mile out of your way,” he said.

In summer 2012, the township received a $100,000 state grant from the Community Infrastructure & Tourism Fund, and used it to excavate the hillside the following spring, with the goal of moving the road away from the slide-prone area.

State Sen. Randy Vulakovich, a former Shaler police sergeant, helped the township obtain a Gaming Economic Development Fund grant for $410,000 through the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County to rebuild the road and move guide rails, among other things, Mr. Creagh said.

In May, Shaler commissioners awarded a $385,474 contract to A. Folino Construction of Oakmont to reopen the road, aiming for Labor Day. Ultimately, the road was moved 6 to 10 feet away from the edge of the cliff and the lanes widened from 8 to 11 feet.

Despite the yearslong effort to secure funding and plan and finalize the construction, Mr. Creagh called the project one of the most efficient in his dozen years with the township.

A final component of the project is due to start this fall. The township closed on two homes it plans to demolish to help improve the poor sight distance for drivers turning from Route 8 onto Fall Run Road.

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.

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