Giant earth-moving equipment has begun to claw away at tons of rock and soil from a Shaler hillside to move and improve the two-lane Fall Run Road, which has been closed since September 2011 when it began sliding into a park.
The road had been an important and popular link between Middle Road and Route 8 and it's a critical road for the township's first responders during emergencies. "We just didn't feel comfortable giving up on a road used by so many people, especially our police and emergency medical service," said Kevin Creagh, township engineer.
He also delivered bad news for those hoping to resume driving on Fall Run -- the road will be closed at least until 2014.
The repair work on the two-lane road started in April and has consisted of relocating utility poles to make room for a fill zone. The excavation work is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
To resolve the 5-year-old problem of the road eroding into the park, crews are moving the roadway 6 to 10 feet away from the edge.
The township hired Sal Leo Tree Service of Shaler to take down hundreds of trees in advance of the earth moving.
Rudzik Excavation of Struthers, Ohio, was hired to do the extensive excavating job and so far has moved more than 20 cubic yards of shale, sandstone and soil. The work involves 30-ton dump trucks to haul the material from the upper part of the hillside road to fill in the lower in preparation for building a wider, safer road bed away from the eroding bluff above the park.
In all, according to John Stephens, Rudzik's construction foreman, the new uphill edge of Fall Run will shift away from the cliff about 110 feet. The total cost for this phase of the project is $160,000.
Once the road bed is created, the township will begin excavating for storm sewers, installing guide rails and grading for a new roadway, which will be wider and will accommodate two-way traffic. The township is seeking funds for the next phase, which is projected at $345,000.
The final phase is in the concept stage. It will address safety concerns with the intersection of Fall Run and Route 8.
Mr. Creagh said there are many accidents when drivers make the left turn from Fall Run onto Route 8. The most recent was last Thursday. The driver of one vehicle was hospitalized and traffic was snarled for more than an hour.
To improve sight distance at the intersection, the township plans to start purchasing houses and other buildings along Route 8.
"We anticipate when Fall Run is a safer road there will be more traffic on it," Mr. Creagh said. The recent serious accident "kind of gives fuel to what we're trying to accomplish," he said.
Mr. Creagh said there is no time line for completion of the project.
Rita Michel, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.