The long-awaited plan to straighten and widen busy Harrison City-Export Road in Penn Township is about to begin.
For more than a decade, supervisors have pushed for correction of the road, known for its dangerous S-curve and narrow lanes, in addition to traffic congestion at the intersection with Route 130.
But, all good things take time, at least it seems when it comes to PennDOT.
"When they did an original traffic study, the intersection was operating at a failed capacity then," said township manager Bruce Light. "I can't imagine things have gotten any better since."
According to Mr. Light, the project is expected to begin later this month or early August with a completion date of September 2014.
The project will start with demolition of an abandoned church at the intersection with Franklin Street and a vacant house at Municipal Park. The entire length of the project spans from Route 130 to Raymaley Road.
The next phase entails relocating utilities, which may cause intermittent traffic delays for motorists.
In the spring, PennDOT will begin replacement of the small bridge over an unnamed tributary to Bushy Run, said PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen.
The bridge work may force traffic on the road to be detoured for several weeks.
"When we were presented the original design 10 to 12 years ago, we were told there would be no closure of roads," said Mr. Light, who noted that it now seems traffic will twice be redirected. The closures, however, will occur after school has recessed for the year, he said.
According to Ms. Petersen, contractor Mele & Mele & Sons Inc. is doing the project, estimated to cost $2.1 million. Eighty percent of the cost is being paid by the state. The remainder is coming from Westmoreland County.
Once completed, Harrison City--Export Road will have a dedicated left turn lane for travel onto Route 130, he said.
"It will be very difficult but thankfully it is coming," Mr. Light said.
The project's start comes after an archaeological dig near the intersection failed to unearth any artifacts from the mid-1700s, when the way station was a midpoint between forts Pitt and Ligonier.
Digging uncovered wooden beams from a residence that dates to about 1805, broken plates, bottle fragments and a piece of a porcelain doll face but no 18th-century relics, a PennDOT archaeologist said in a report.
None of the found items were so historically significant as to further delay the road project, the report said.
Linda Metz, freelance writer: email@example.com.