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Route 56 Bypass upgrade in Allegheny Township and Vandergrift set to begin

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

Drivers should be gearing up for two years' worth of work on the Route 56 Bypass in Allegheny Township and Vandergrift.

Nearly $8 million in improvements are planned on the road from South Leechburg Hill Road to just before the Vandergrift Bridge over the Kiski River, according to PennDOT officials.

Work this year will be mostly in Allegheny Township, on the two-mile stretch of the four-lane highway from South Leechburg Hill Road to Oak Street just inside Vandergrift.

The roughly one-mile stretch through Vandergrift from Oak Street to the bridge will be worked on in 2014.

This year's work is scheduled to start April 1 and be finished by Nov. 22, said PennDOT construction manager Larry Maricondi.

Work will start at South Leechburg Hill Road and move toward Vandergrift, he said.

Lane restrictions are expected for both projects. No detours are anticipated.

The work will include patching, milling and resurfacing of the road. Guard rails, signage, pavement markings, drainage and traffic signals will be upgraded, Maricondi said.

Derry Construction is the prime contractor for this year's work, costing $4.6 million.

Contracts for next year's work will be awarded in December, said Chad Mosco, PennDOT project manager.

The work on the road in Vandergrift is expected to cost about $3 million, he said.

It will stop at First Street before the bridge. It's expected to be started and finished in 2014.

Plans are to patch the concrete and cover it with asphalt. There will be minor work on sidewalks to address handicapped-accessibility compliance, and minor drainage work, Mosco said.

Vandergrift Councilman James Rametta said he would prefer that the road remain concrete-surfaced. He said a concrete road would last longer and not develop potholes as frequently.

Mosco said putting a layer of asphalt over the concrete will seal it from water and preserve it.

Rametta is also concerned that a letter PennDOT recently sent to property owners along the road brought up the spectre of “eminent domain.”

The letter advises property owners that PennDOT employees, consultants or contractors may need to enter properties to do surveys, engineering studies, soil exploration or other tests.

Rametta said the borough's solicitor is looking into it.

“I just question the right to eminent domain,” Rametta said. “That was my only concern.”

Mosco said the notices deal with drainage work.

Because the resurfacing will add 4 inches to the height of the road, curbs through town — which help funnel storm water — may have to be changed.

No additional land will be taken for the road, he said.

Workers could soon be out surveying and taking measurements, Mosco said.

Property owners will be notified before any entry, if possible.

“We want to make sure we let everybody know we're on their property for a reason,” Mosco said. “If anything is disturbed, we'll take care of it.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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