Parkway West, Route 28 in PennDOT's plans

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PennDOT's construction plans for this year call for closing the Parkway West near Interstate 79 on several weekends; a less-trying year for Parkway East motorists; and a spring and summer of discontent for those who travel Route 28.

Major work also is planned at the West End Circle, McKees Rocks Bridge, Robinson Town Centre interchange and on dozens of other state roads and bridges.

District 11 of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation yesterday released a $369 million construction and maintenance plan for Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties. That is up from $350 million last year and $250 million in 2007.

"If you've traveled around the area, you've had to plan your travels in the last couple years. We've had a lot of construction. We're proud of that," said Dan Cessna, District 11 executive, at a forum in Heidelberg yesterday.

Mr. Cessna said this year's plan emphasizes bridge work, with $170 million to be spent replacing 17 bridges, rehabilitating 12 others and doing preservation work on 37.

Of the district's 1,800 bridges, 594 are structurally deficient, he said. "That doesn't mean they are unsafe, but they have major deficiencies that left unaddressed could become problematic."

Road resurfacing will be reduced this season because of budget constraints, he said. Seventy miles of state roads in Allegheny County were repaved last year; only 48 miles are scheduled for resurfacing this season.

Among the major road and bridge projects scheduled for this year:

Parkway West -- As part of a continuing $67.4 million project that added ramps last fall to complete the interchange with I-79, the parkway will be widened to three lanes from Campbells Run Road to I-79.

Jim Foringer, assistant district executive for construction, said the parkway will be closed on four to six weekends and several nights to accommodate the work, which is expected to be completed in June.

Parkway East -- During this year's phase, on the inbound side from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Churchill, PennDOT expects to keep two lanes open during peak periods. "This year's project won't have near the impact on travel that we had in previous years," Mr. Cessna said.

The $24.7 million project includes milling and resurfacing all lanes and ramps, bridge repairs and painting, and rehabilitation of the Jefferson Heights Bridge over the parkway in Penn Hills. The work will begin in late March. Work on the outbound side is scheduled for next year.

Route 28 -- One outbound lane already is closed for wall construction near the old Heinz plant, causing rush hour snarls. That's just the beginning.

The outbound lanes near Etna are scheduled to close entirely for an extended period starting in early June. Traffic will be detoured to the 62nd Street Bridge, Butler Street and the Highland Park Bridge.

The $22.5 million project includes pavement and bridge reconstruction, guide rail, curb and shoulder work, lighting, signs and other improvements in the interchange area south of Route 8 to just north of the Highland Park Bridge.

Patching and paving on the inbound side from Millvale to Etna will cause restrictions during off-peak hours, nights and weekends.

Two projects estimated at $20 million to $60 million will relocate railroad tracks, demolish buildings and improve alternate routes in preparation for major reconstruction of Route 28 from Millvale to the North Side, a dangerous, congested section known as the "death stretch."

That work may cause periodic traffic disruptions at the 31st Street Bridge, Mr. Foringer said.

Concrete patching will be done on both sides of the road from near the Creighton interchange to the Butler County line, with traffic restricted in off-peak hours, nights and weekends, starting in early summer.

West End Circle -- The $52.6 million project to untangle the circle and create a direct connection from the West End Bypass to the West End Bridge will continue. Restrictions, closings and detours will be announced.

McKees Rocks Bridge -- Westbound traffic will be detoured to the West End Bridge for three months starting in late May or early June, with one lane of eastbound traffic maintained, as a $6.8 million repair project continues. After that, eastbound traffic will be detoured for two months and one lane will be open westbound. During each phase, a full weekend closure is expected.

Robinson Town Centre -- A $10 million to $15 million project will reconfigure the Routes 22/30/60 Parkway West interchange to improve safety and reduce weaving. Work will begin this year and conclude late next year, with detours and lane closures to be announced.

Smaller bridges scheduled for replacement starting this year are Lobbs Run in Jefferson Hills; Grubbs Road in McCandless; Kelso Road in North Fayette; Burgettstown Road in Findlay; Gourdhead Run on Route 8 in Hampton; Big Sewickley Creek Road in Bell Acres; and Lincoln Way in White Oak.

Road resurfacing is scheduled for parts of West Carson Street in the West End; Baptist Road in Bethel Park; Mosside Boulevard in North Versailles and Wall; Montour Run Road in Moon and Robinson; Boston Hollow Road in Elizabeth Township and Lincoln; North Starr Avenue in Avalon and Bellevue; and about a dozen other state roads.


Jon Schmitz can be reached at jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.


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