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A-K Valley motorists encounter fewer traffic headaches as cold weather arrives, projects completed

| Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Whether you're going over the river or through the woods to grandmother's house this winter, you shouldn't encounter too many roadblocks along the way.

PennDOT's road construction season is winding down, and only a few projects are expected to include substantive work through the cold weather.

One of the most significant projects in the Alle-Kiski Valley to reach the finish line this year is the reconstruction of the Freeport Bridge.

Carl Ray, PennDOT's project manager for the bridge, said the majority of work will be complete by Dec. 20.

Ray said there was a “final walk-through” of the construction site on Thursday that included design, construction and maintenance officials to “check our work to see if it is has met the intent of the design.

“The project has scored very good marks with very little rework to do. If you compare the notes that we received to the size and complexity of the project, we are very happy.”

Only a few weather-dependent activities, such as planting and some paving work, may need to wait until spring for completion.

The three-year, $64 million project involved the replacement of the main span over the Allegheny River between Allegheny Township and Freeport as well as the smaller Laneville bridge over Buffalo Creek.

The complicated network of ramps on the Freeport side of the river was revamped, and two new traffic signals were installed.

“The new roadway design was developed to simplify and improve traffic safety,” Ray said. “It is anticipated to reduce accidents.”

Other projects completed

A variety of smaller PennDOT projects wrapped up in 2013:

• The repaving of the Tarentum Bridge, which completed a two-year, nearly $8 million project to resurface about 2 miles of Route 366 from New Kensington to Route 28 just inside Fawn Township.

Most of the project was completed in 2012, but PennDOT delayed finishing the bridge work until this summer to avoid disturbing a pair of endangered peregrine falcons nesting in the structure.

• Several bridge-replacement or refurbishment projects were completed in the Valley, including the Route 286 bridge over Route 66 in Washington Township; the Route 286 bridge over Route 380 in Murrysville; a Pine Run Road bridge in Allegheny Township; a Saxonburg Boulevard bridge in Indiana Township; and the Plum Creek bridge on the Oakmont-Verona border.

• Valerie Petersen, a PennDOT spokeswoman, said work at the interchange of Routes 380 and 366 (Greensburg Road) on the Murrysville-Washington Township line should be completed by the end of the year.

That project, which is part of a $2.4 million package of bridge-repair projects throughout Westmoreland, Greene, Fayette and Washington counties, has included single-lane restrictions on Route 366 and shoulder restrictions on Route 380.

• This year's work on Route 56 in Allegheny Township to the Vandergrift border is complete.

The $4.7 million project involved resurfacing about 2 miles of the four-lane highway from South Leechburg Hill Road to Oak Street in Vandergrift.

The second half of the project, which will extend the upgrades on Route 56 through Vandergrift, is planned for next year.

Winter work continues

Two significant local projects are expected to continue through the winter, but only one — the ongoing reconstruction of Route 28 in Pittsburgh — is expected to affect Valley drivers.

Preliminary work on the replacement of the Hulton Bridge between Oakmont and Harmar has begun in earnest with the clearing of the riverbanks where the new bridge will be moored just upstream of the existing span.

Although work will continue through the winter on new piers and abutments, officials from PennDOT and general contractor Brayman Construction Corp. of Clinton Township said drivers should experience few construction-related restrictions on the existing 105-year-old span until 2015, when the new bridge will be close to opening.

The only unwelcome present for commuters this winter likely will be the return of bottlenecks on Route 28 north in Pittsburgh.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said as the fifth and final phase of the Route 28 reconstruction project begins, one northbound lane will be closed again in the section between East Ohio Street and the 31st Street Bridge.

Drivers have had a brief respite from that restriction since late September, when PennDOT opened both outbound lanes for the first time since September 2011.

PennDOT has a better gift in store for drivers next holiday season: the entire $100 million project is expected to be finished by the end of 2014.

Liz Hayes is staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or

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