Turnpike work set to begin

A $200 million project to widen and reconstruct eight miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Allegheny County is expected to shift into high gear this summer.

Trumbull Corp. this month submitted an apparent low bid of $79.3 million to rebuild the eastbound side from east of the Butler Valley interchange to the Allegheny River Bridge.

Work may begin in July, turnpike commission spokesman Tom Fox said.

Both sides of the turnpike will be rebuilt from the ground up between mile 40 and mile 48, and the highway will be widened to three lanes in both directions.

The existing 10-foot-wide median will be widened to 26 feet.

Mr. Fox said two lanes of traffic will be maintained throughout the eastbound construction, which is expected to continue through late 2016.

There may be brief periods, particularly overnight, where traffic is slowed down or stopped to accommodate construction activity.

To make way for a wider turnpike, six bridges that cross over it had to be replaced. Three have been completed, on Middle Road in Hampton, Rich Hill Road in Harmar and Route 910 in Indiana Township. A second Route 910 bridge currently is under construction, with completion expected in December.

The third Route 910 bridge over the turnpike will be replaced as part of the eastbound mainline project, with completion scheduled next year. The turnpike commission expects to accept bids for the final bridge, carrying Saxonburg Boulevard, next year.

"We're pretty much on schedule," Mr. Fox said.

Bids for reconstruction of the westbound turnpike won't be received until late 2016 or early 2017. The turnpike couldn't do both sides at the same time and maintain two travel lanes, he said.

About 40,000 vehicles per day use the turnpike between Butler Valley and Allegheny Valley, making it one of the busiest stretches in Western Pennsylvania. It was built in 1951.

According to the turnpike commission, nearly 30 miles of the mainline have been fully reconstructed between the Ohio line and New Stanton at a cost of more than $600 million, part of a long-range program to rebuild the entire turnpike.

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.

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