$80M Hulton Bridge between Harmar and Oakmont PennDOT's biggest project in district in decade

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

A much-anticipated project to replace the Hulton Bridge is slated to get under way in August, according to a PennDOT 2013 construction schedule for projects in Allegheny County that was released Friday.

The replacement bridge, costing as much as $80 million, is the single biggest project in PennDOT's District 11 in about a decade, said District Executive Dan Cessna.

The 104-year-old, two-lane bridge spans about 1,500 feet across the Allegheny River, connecting Hulton Road in Oakmont and Freeport Road in Harmar.

It's one of the worst-rated bridges in Western Pennsylvania, with a sufficiency rating of 3 out of 100, but carries about 20,000 vehicles a day, PennDOT records show.

The new bridge will have four traffic lanes and a pedestrian walkway.

“It will provide considerable congestion relief,” Cessna said.

Unlike the existing bridge, there will be no overhead trusses on the new bridge.

Traffic will continue to use the current bridge while the new span is built.

About 80 percent of the funding for the project is from the federal government.

“It would have been disastrous had we not gotten this bridge,” said Oakmont Mayor Robert Fescemyer. “It's going to be nothing but beneficial. If we had to close the (aging) bridge, we would starve over here.”

Fescemyer said he stressed to PennDOT officials the importance of keeping the span open during construction.

“When they rehabbed that bridge 10 years ago, they closed it down for seven months,” the mayor said. “We lost four businesses in the borough of Oakmont during that time.”

He said he was told the bridge would close for only about two weeks while the new bridge is connected to Freeport Road on the Harmar side.

Other Valley projects

Other local projects included on PennDOT's 2013 construction schedule include:

• Work will continue in 2013 to complete the widening of Route 28 between the 40th Street Bridge and East Ohio Street.

• The $36.4 million project is slated to be completed in fall 2014.

• Continued work on a $2 million project to restore Saxonburg Boulevard in West Deer following a landslide.

• Replacement of the Plum Avenue Bridge over Plum Creek in Verona and Oakmont. The project is estimated to cost about $1.2 million.

• A $3 million to $4 million “group roadway project” in Aspinwall, O'Hara, Verona and Oakmont that includes paving and shoulder and drainage improvements on Washington Boulevard from Negley Run to One Wild Place; Freeport Road from Western Avenue to Old Freeport Road; and Allegheny River Boulevard from James Street to Allegheny Avenue.

• A $1.3 million project to replace a bridge that carries Saxonburg Boulevard over Little Pine Creek in Indiana Township.

Pittsburgh, the region

• Other projects in Allegheny County include continued work in the Squirrel Hill and Liberty tunnels, replacement of the West Carson Street Viaduct and improvements along Route 19 in the North Hills.

All of the projects have price tags of more than $20 million.

• The $49.5 million Squirrel Hill Tunnel project will require up to nine weekend closures and lengthy detours, most of them affecting outbound motorists.

“It will be the most impactful local project,” Cessna said.

Crews are increasing the clearance inside the tunnel by more than a foot, to 14 feet, 9 inches.

• A project to improve the Liberty Tunnel will enter its fourth phase and cost up to $30 million.

Cessna said crews will put a smooth, white surface on the interior walls, restoring the tunnel's original look.

Two 18-day-long tunnel closures — one in each direction — will occur, starting in August. A fifth phase of work will be done next year.

• The West Carson Street Viaduct project, expected to cost up to $45 million, will result in “significant” detours for northbound traffic and affect outbound traffic on the Port Authority's West Busway, Cessna said.

Tom Fontaine and Jodi Weigand are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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