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Reconstruction to start on Allegheny River Boulevard in Oakmont

| Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dis
A sign warns motorists that Allegheny River Boulevard in Oakmont will close at College Avenue causing a long detour while the road is worked on on Friday, July 26, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
With the closure of Allegheny River Boulevard in Oakmont, northbound traffic will be detoured using Sandy Creek Road (Route 130) in Penn Hills. Photographed on Friday, July 26, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Traffic crosses the Roger F. Duffy Viaduct, between Oakmont and Verona, on Friday, July 26, 2013.

Reconstruction of Allegheny River Boulevard, from James Street in Verona to College Avenue in Oakmont, is scheduled to begin tonight and run through mid-September.

Motorists will face one-lane, alternating traffic from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays until Sept. 13 as Derry Construction Co. crews work on the 4,300-foot stretch of road.

The Latrobe-based contractors will close the road in Oakmont from Plum Avenue to College Avenue over the first two weekends of August to replace the brick roadway and adjacent concrete, according to Derry construction superintendent Steve Matko.

Detours will be in place from Friday at 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday, and again at the same times from Aug. 9 to Aug. 12.

PennDOT's official detour is designed to accommodate large trucks and use as many state roads as possible, said PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan.

Cowan acknowledges that the official detour, which takes traffic through Penn Hills, is “a pretty confusing route.”

Most motorists likely will try local streets that will make the detour significantly shorter and more direct.

“We encourage individuals who are familiar with the area to explore easier routes to bypass the work zone on those weekends,” he said.

The official detour will direct northbound motorists coming toward Verona to turn right onto Sandy Creek Road (Route 130) in Penn Hills. From there, they will turn left on Verona Road before bearing right onto Saltsburg Road.

Motorists will then turn left on Hulton Road and follow that into Plum until it runs into Allegheny River Boulevard on the opposite end of the construction.

Those approaching the work site from Oakmont will follow the same path in the reverse direction.

Aside from replacing the brick road and concrete in the block between Plum and College avenues, Derry Construction crews will expand and improve the road's drainage system, Matko said.

Oakmont residents like Rod Costak, 59, who lives in the 100 block of Allegheny River Boulevard, are pleased to see the incessant flooding issues along that strip being addressed.

“The road gets really bad in the heavy rain,” he said. “You might as well go out there with a rubber ducky sometimes.”

Derry Construction Co. president Rich Hudock said he expects the region's rainy July weather to continue through August, which could extend the contractor's completion date beyond Sept. 13.

“We can't seem to get out in front of the rain,” he said. “We've been delayed all summer. That's why we're addressing the excavation and replacement area first.”

Some business owners and managers in the weekend closure area are concerned that the work might adversely affect business. A Rite Aid daytime manager named Kate, who would not give her last name, said she anticipates a drop in sales.

“It's definitely going to have an impact,” she said. “Even though people can enter the parking lot from Plum Avenue, and Oakmont residents know how to get around it, we're going to miss all of those people passing through.

“But I do think it's a positive thing at the end of the day. The road needs it.”

The Oakmont Rite Aid is at Plum Avenue and Allegheny River Boulevard.

Matko said the sidewalks will remain open and the work areas will maintain full pedestrian accessibility during the construction.

Other businesses in the closed block are Oakmont Dental Associates, Dr. Richard DeFilippo Dentistry and East Coast Tanning.

Calls made to the dentistry offices and East Coast Tanning went unanswered.

Oakmont Borough Manager Lisa Cooper Jensen declined comment.

Verona work will follow

Once the excavation and road replacement on the north end is complete, Hudock said Derry crews will push south into Verona. The workers will mill, repave and paint the roads.

The bridge that connects Oakmont and Verona, known as the Roger F. Duffy Viaduct, will be reinforced and given a new concrete overlay as part of the $700,000 project.

The maintenance on Allegheny River Boulevard is the fourth and final component of a $3 million PennDOT initiative called the Allegheny Group Project.

Tony Futules, 65, is a Verona councilman who sits on the borough's street committee. He believes the road repair was an unnecessary project and a devolution of state politics.

“(PennDOT) allocate(s) a certain amount of money each year from the state budget, and if there's a surplus at the end of the year, they subtract that amount from the next year's state budget,” he said. “It's just politics. It's how they keep the economy circulating and people at work.”

Cowan's response: “If we're contracted projects, it's being done out of necessity. It's getting done because it needs to get done.”

Futules said the borough has never received a resident complaint regarding the state of Allegheny River Boulevard. He does not expect the road work and consequent detours to cause any safety issues.

Verona Police will be on standby to assist Derry Construction crews with directing traffic.

“We don't anticipate any issues,” said Ron McLemore, Verona police chief. “As long as drivers, especially trucks, watch their speeds through the detour routes, it'll be fine.”

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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