Continuing work on the Squirrel Hill and Liberty tunnels and Route 28, a long-awaited revamping of the Route 51-88 intersection in Overbrook, reconstruction of a 2-mile section of West Carson Street and the start of construction on a new Hulton Bridge are among 90 projects planned by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation locally this season.
PennDOT expects to spend $290 million in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties this year, what District Executive Dan Cessna called "a pretty average program for the summer." The number of projects started or continuing this year in District 11 is down from the 168 announced last year.
The second year of a three-year, $49.5 million reconstruction of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels will bring about more full weekend closures, starting with closure of the outbound tunnel March 22-25 for removal of the false ceiling. Other outbound closures are tentatively scheduled for April 5-8, 19-22 and 26-29. The closures will run from 11 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.
The fourth phase of renovations to the Liberty Tunnels, a project that began in 2008, will restore the entry facades at both ends to a look similar to what graced the entrances when the tunnels opened in 1924. The $18.8 million phase will finish the tunnel interiors in a washable white surface. Much of the work will be done at night but two 18-day closures, one in each direction, will be needed during the summer, Mr. Cessna said.
Route 28 construction will continue, causing several traffic shifts during the season as work at the 31st Street Bridge interchange nears completion.
After decades of talk and planning, PennDOT will start a major makeover of the Route 51-88 intersection, which will feature a "jug handle" for northbound traffic heading to Route 88 or Glenbury Street. The jug handle will wrap around the existing Rite Aid store at the intersection.
Four badly decayed bridges will be replaced, along with the antiquated traffic signals and signage. Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in both directions on Route 51 at all times, but some Route 88 closures and detours are anticipated. Work is expected to begin in the spring.
PennDOT will soon begin major reconstruction on West Carson Street from near the West End Bridge to McKees Rocks, a $40 milllion to $45 million project that will cause northbound traffic to be detoured via the West End Bridge, Route 65 and the McKees Rocks Bridge around the clock for the full construction season. The closure also will reroute outbound Port Authority buses that use the West Busway.
One of the biggest single projects to start in several years is the new Hulton Bridge, to be built just upstream of the existing two-lane span over the Allegheny River between Harmar and Oakmont.
It will have four lanes and cost an estimated $60 million to $80 million. Construction is expected to begin in the fall, with traffic maintained on the old bridge throughout the project. The goal is to complete the new bridge in time for the 2016 U.S. Open golf tournament at Oakmont Country Club, Mr. Cessna said.
The second season of rehabilitation work on the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge will begin Monday with a full closure of the bridge, detouring traffic to the Sewickley Bridge until around Thanksgiving, when the $23.6 million project is scheduled for completion.
After Labor Day, the department will begin demolition of the Heth's Run Bridge on Butler Street near the Pittsburgh Zoo in Highland Park, maintaining traffic on a temporary roadway to be built on the edge of the zoo parking lots while a new $16.7 million span is constructed.
Resurfacing of another 5 miles of Route 65 is planned on the North Side, picking up where last year's work left off. PennDOT also plans to reconstruct the intersection of Connor Road, Gilkeson Road and Route 19 in Mt. Lebanon and resurface nearly 4 miles of Route 19. The $4 million to $5 million project calls for adding a second through lane from Gilkeson to Connor to ease chronic backups there.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868 First Published March 1, 2013 12:30 AM