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Plans to widen the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Irwin on hold

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, 11:03 a.m.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission plans to rebuild the Trafford Road Bridge, a process required before construction on widening the turnpike can begin.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission plans to rebuild the Trafford Road Bridge, a process required before construction on widening the turnpike can begin.

Plans to add a third lane to a five-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike west of the Irwin interchange are on hold until the turnpike gets additional money for the Irwin-to-Monroeville road-widening project that could cost $300 million.

Meanwhile, work will begin before the end of the year on a $10 million Trafford Road Bridge replacement project over the turnpike in Penn Township. That project is to be finished by November 2018, said Renee Vid Colborn, a turnpike commission spokeswoman.

While the bridge work will not impact traffic on the turnpike, it will cause short-term detours, Colborn said. The new bridge will be built adjacent to the existing bridge.

“Eventually, the bridge will tie the new and existing roadways together toward the end of construction,” Colborn said.

Penn Township has approved stormwater management plans for the project, said Alex Graziani, township manager.

Preliminary design began in 2012 for reconstruction and widening of the turnpike to three lanes from the Irwin to Monroeville exits. Final design has begun for the section from Northern Pike in Monroeville to Harvison Road, but construction is not expected to occur until 2023. The project is scheduled to be finished three years later, Colborn said.

The widened road will have three 12-foot lanes in each direction and 12-foot right shoulders. Unlike the current highway, where opposing lanes are separated by a concrete barrier and 10-foot median, the reconstructed road will have a 26-foot-wide median.

The turnpike commission acquired easements or deeds to about 25 properties over the past five years in Murrysville, Penn Township and North Huntingdon for the reconstruction and widening project, according to records in the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds. The state already owned some of the property that the turnpike acquired.

Road widening between the Irwin exit and Harvison Road remains on hold because of a lack of funding, Colborn said. Turnpike officials in 2013 had predicted the final phase of the project would begin in 2020 or 2021.

The Trafford Road Bridge is one of nine bridges between the Irwin and Monroeville interchanges that the turnpike plans to replace to accommodate the widening of the road, but the Trafford Road span is the only one being planned for replacement now, Colborn said.

There was discussion recently among North Huntingdon officials about the turnpike commission's plans to move the exit ramp to the intersection of Arona Road and Route 30, about a fourth of a mile from the existing intersection.

Andrew Blenko, North Huntingdon's planning director, said the turnpike commission would give Rain Remodeling Co. of Hempfield a lease of no more than seven years to place a sales office on turnpike land at the corner of Arona Road and Route 30 because a new exit ramp may cut through the parcel.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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