First of three major Parkway West projects begins tonight
Lane addition set to snarl traffic
July 9, 2014 12:28 AM
Early morning rush hour on the Parkway West.
By Jon Schmitz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The first of three major construction projects along the Parkway West is scheduled to begin tonight, with serious traffic disruptions looming in the weeks and months ahead, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Also this week, PennDOT will make a major change to the traffic pattern on northbound Route 51 at the construction zone at Route 88 in Overbrook.
The first parkway project will add a fourth outbound lane for nearly a mile approaching Interstate 79 in Rosslyn Farms. The existing three-lane configuration has traffic in the right lane exiting to I-79, the left lane continuing on the parkway and the middle lane having the choice of going either way. When the $3.72 million project is completed in the spring, the two left lanes will be dedicated to parkway traffic, the right lane will be reserved for the I-79 exit, and the second lane from the right will split, with an option to exit or continue on the parkway. The additional parkway lane will end near the I-79 overpasses.
The contractor, Swank Construction Co. LLC, will close an outbound lane between Rosslyn Farms and I-79 at midnight today and Thursday to install traffic control signs. The lane closures will end by 5 a.m. both days.
Long-term closure of the right shoulder is scheduled to begin Monday. Three outbound lanes will be re-striped and kept open during the project. Two full overnight closures of the parkway will be necessary later, with the dates to be determined, PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said.
Besides road reconfiguration, shoulder reconstruction and sign improvements, the project includes construction of sound walls to buffer Rosslyn and Revere roads from parkway noise.
PennDOT expects to begin two other major projects this year along the parkway. A $13.7 million project to remove the deteriorating ceilings in the Fort Pitt Tunnels will begin this fall and require nightly lane closures and several full weekend closures of the tunnels. The schedule of restrictions and detours has not been determined, Mr. Cowan said.
The department opened bids last month for a major reconstruction of the parkway in both directions from the tunnels to I-79, with Swank Construction submitting the apparent low bid of $72.8 million. Much of the work and disruption of traffic won’t occur until next year but there might be overnight lane closures near the Carnegie interchange and in the three-lane sections this season, Mr. Cowan said.
Plans call for milling and repaving the parkway in both directions, reconstructing the shoulders, lengthening some on- and off-ramps, replacing the concrete median barrier, sign improvements, and bridge repairs.
On Route 51, northbound traffic will be shifted to the new jug handle that was built to accommodate left turns to Route 88 starting at 7 p.m. Friday. Two lanes of through traffic and the option of turning onto Route 88 will be maintained. Southbound traffic will remain in its current alignment as a $19 million intersection and bridge construction project continues.
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