The biggest phase of the massive Route 28 construction project reached a milestone on Monday with the opening of the interchange at the William Raymond Prom Memorial Bridge, formerly the 31st Street Bridge.
While much Route 28 work remains, drivers should have a good idea of the overall impact of the project on traffic flow, with interchanges now fully in place at the Prom and 40th Street bridges, allowing drivers on the mainline to pass the bridges without stopping at traffic signals.
"I think it's going to be exceptional at those locations," said Dan Cessna, district executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The project's full safety benefits won't be realized until the final phase of the project is completed late next year, putting a barrier between the opposing traffic lanes between the Prom Bridge and East Ohio Street, he said.
Completion of the interchange should also ease some of the snarls on alternate routes, including the 40th Street Bridge and Butler Street and Liberty Avenue in Lawrenceville, he said.
But the freer flow of outbound traffic on Route 28 has spawned a new problem spot, with congestion building during the evening rush hour at Highland Park, where through traffic must move to the left lane. Mr. Cessna said he expects the department to look into improvements there at some point "but it's not on the drawing boards yet."
The last phase of Route 28 construction in the area of the old St. Nicholas Church will bring back the dreaded single-lane outbound traffic pattern that drivers have endured since the overall project started in 2010. That is expected to begin early next month and continue through late next year.
Meanwhile, ongoing construction on the $36.4 million fourth phase of Route 28 improvements will cause additional nighttime restrictions this week and next.
Outbound traffic will be restricted to one lane from East Ohio Street to the 40th Street Bridge from 8 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Wednesday. Traffic in both directions in that area will be restricted to one lane starting at 8 p.m. weekdays all of next week, with the lane closures ending by 5 a.m., except for Saturday, Dec. 5, when they will continue until 8 a.m.
Outbound lane closures will be delayed until two hours after Penguins home games.
The 31st Street Bridge was renamed for U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Prom, a Reserve resident who died protecting fellow soldiers in Vietnam in 1969.
Prom, 20, a machine gun squad leader, received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor. Legislation renaming the bridge was approved by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett.
The renamed bridge was dedicated at a ceremony on July 20.
Signs reflecting the name change will be installed next week, Mr. Cessna said.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout.