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Route 28 expressway to get overhaul next year during 12 weekend closures

Madasyn Czebiniak
| Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, 3:09 a.m.
A section of Route 28 will undergo major construction next year. The work will take place from the Buffalo Township line near Exit 16 to the Creighton ramp in East Deer.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A section of Route 28 will undergo major construction next year. The work will take place from the Buffalo Township line near Exit 16 to the Creighton ramp in East Deer.

Motorists can expect significant delays during 12 weekend closures of Route 28 next year, as PennDOT works to improve a seven-mile stretch of roadway through the Alle-Kiski Valley.

Work on the $35 million to $40 million project is expected to begin in the early spring, and the anticipated completion date is Dec. 20, 2018.

It will take place from the Butler County line south to near the Creighton southbound on-ramp at Exit 13.

That stretch of highway will be paved with asphalt, with the exception of bridge decks and approach slabs.

Other parts of the project include:

• Drainage work;

• Updated signs and pavement markings;

• New highway lighting;

• New and updated guardrails;

• Preservation work on 11 short bridges;

• Bridge de-icer maintenance and upgrades;

• Cleaning out of the rock fall area.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said the department is “excited for the investment in this important roadway for the Alle-Kiski Valley travelers.”

An average 50,000 vehicles a day travel Route 28 at the southern end of the project area, Cowan said, and at the Butler County line, the average count is 21,000.

The last time the existing concrete pavement was patched was in 2009, he said.

“It has reached the point where it needs (to be) reconstructed,” Cowan said.

Tarentum Councilwoman Carrie Fox said the borough met with PennDOT officials and representatives from neighboring municipalities and emergency service agencies in September to hear about the project.

She thinks the upgrades will be good for the Alle-Kiski Valley.

“It's very instrumental that this roadway is in great condition,” she said. “They're going to do a lot of work. They're supposed to improve the dip at the Tarentum exit, they're supposed to (install) all new guiderails, high-tech paving and markers, high mast lighting. They're supposed to pave every ramp. I'll be excited to have it done. Any improvement that's done in the Valley is a good thing.”

The 12 weekend closures will stretch from the Tarentum Interchange (Exit 14) to Route 908 (Exit 16) at the Butler County line, Cowan said.

There will be six northbound closures and six southbound closures.

Cowan could not say on what dates the weekend closures will take place because the construction contract hasn't been awarded yet, but said the closures will run from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

“What we know at this point is the contractor will be allowed to have the listed closures,” Cowan said. “We won't know specifics until we get deeper in the process.”

The posted detour will be along Freeport Road, which runs parallel to the Route 28 expressway.

Cowan said there is no way to determine the length of delays resulting from the construction. He said the department will work to provide motorists with information in advance of any closures.

“(PennDOT) anticipates significant delays for the weekend closures only,” Cowan said. “The positive news for motorists is (there will be) no lane restrictions during peak travel times.”

Two lanes in each direction will be open for morning and evening rush hours, and single-lane closures will occur off-peak and during nights and weekends, Cowan said.

Brad James, deputy chief at Eureka Fire Rescue EMS in Tarentum, said Route 28 is one of the ways that Eureka's ambulance service takes patients to Pittsburgh hospitals.

“The more continuing and preventive maintenance that they can do to that, the better for all of us as motorists,” he said.

James said his agency is used to construction along the expressway. He doesn't expect any significant delays resulting from the work.

“(PennDOT has) worked on the expressway before,” he said. “They've worked on it twice since they built the Mills mall. They've worked on the whole corridor in Harmar, and they added the third lane. It's really nothing new. We just learn to adapt and overcome.”

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.

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