PennDOT begins two-year, $87.9 million I-279 project
March 20, 2017 12:00 AM
PennDOT will begin its two-year, $87.9 million project to upgrade Parkway North. The project, which begins today, will first focus on the southbound/inbound lanes of the highway. The project will include upgrading the highway between the Camp Horne Road exit and the North Side. The work will affect nearly 53,000 motorists per day.
By Ed Blazina / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Traffic disruptions begin Monday for about 53,000 motorists who use inbound Interstate 279/Parkway North as road crews prepare for a two-year, $87.9 million project to upgrade the highway between Camp Horne Road and the North Side.
This year’s work will be concentrated on an 8.5-mile area on the southbound, inbound lanes, but another major restriction will be the elimination of the high-occupancy-vehicle lane for northbound traffic during this year’s construction. That’s because southbound traffic will be diverted to the HOV lane.
Once the preparation work is done, which is expected to be April 8 or later, crews will create a crossover before Camp Horne Road, where one lane of traffic will shift onto the northbound side of the highway and the other would remain on the inbound side. Traffic on the crossover will not be able to exit at Camp Horne, Bellevue/West View or Perrysville.
At Perrysville, traffic from the main inbound lane line and from the crossover lane both will be diverted to the HOV lane and continue on that roadway to a point south of McKnight Road. Motorists who get on the highway at McKnight Road will have one lane of traffic until it reaches the area where traffic from the HOV lane crosses back onto the main road.
“While it will be something very different than motorists are used to, there shouldn’t be any mass confusion,” said Steve Cowan, spokesman for District 11 of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
“We’re taking the HOV lane out of use in the morning rush hour, so that’s going to be different. I anticipate traffic moving much slower. The good thing is for a majority of the project we will keep two lanes of traffic open.”
The evening rush hour outbound also is likely to be more congested because traffic won’t be allowed to use the HOV lane, which will be exclusively for inbound traffic during construction.
Mr. Cowan said the highway may seem relatively new, but it is on its normal schedule for rehabilitation.
“By the time we get finished with this, the roadway will be 30 years old,” he said. “We typically try to get them done in that time frame.”
The work, which is the most expensive project to start in the district this year, will include concrete patching and overlay; preservation of 30 bridges and 49 overhead sign structures; repairs to 29 walls; ramp repairs; lighting improvements; HOV repairs; guide rail and drainage improvements; and installing an anti-icing system on bridges at the McKnight Road interchange.
Traffic should be returned to its normal pattern by Aug. 29, but short-term, night and weekend lane closures will occur throughout the construction season. Electrical, lighting and sign work will continue through the winter.
Next year, work shifts to the outbound side and several additional aspects will be added to the project to provide safer traffic merges. They include lengthening the northbound entrance ramp from the Perrysville interchange; lengthening the Madison Avenue ramp by about 2,000 feet; and reconfiguring the interchange with Interstate 579 to extend the entrance lane about 1,200 feet.
Preliminary work and restrictions begin Monday as crews for Trumbull Corp. begin creating emergency pull-offs and crossover areas in both directions on the highway. That should continue through March 30.
On the outbound side, the left or right lane will be closed on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and on weekends from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.
For traffic heading inbound, the left lane will be closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays and from 8 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday on weekends.
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