End in sight for Route 28 construction
Traffic patterns on Route 28 will change again next week, but for motorists who travel the oft-maligned roadway, the end of decades of construction is in sight.
According to PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan, completion of the most recent five-year, $120 million reconstruction of a section of the highway near and in Pittsburgh is expected to be open by Thanksgiving.
“We're on schedule for a late-November full reopening of the road,” Cowan said. “The next phase of the project starts next week.”
Lanes shift next week
That phase, beginning on Friday, will shift traffic lanes away from the Allegheny River and toward a new retaining wall on the Troy Hill side of the road.
“There will still be two lanes southbound and one lane northbound,” Cowan said. “Crews will be working to reconstruct the northbound lanes.”
The new phase will offer drivers some relief, according to Cowan.
“Currently, the lanes split and the right lane forces traffic to East Ohio Street,” he said. “This phase will re-establish the East Ohio Street exit.
“Both lanes now will take you southbound and have a separate East Ohio Street ramp.”
Cowan said the current lane alignment has caused some traffic headaches.
“Especially early on, people were riding the right lane until they had to get over to keep going on 28,” he said. “It created a problem in both lanes. That will now be eliminated.”
Cowan said, with a little more than two months left in the project, PennDOT and motorists should be equally excited.
“We're right at the finish line,” he said. “We can see the end in sight.”
The project's completion will make Route 28 a four-lane expressway from Pittsburgh to Kittanning.
It's a project that started in the 1960s and took about 50 years to complete.
Work took place in spurts followed by years-long dry spells. Obtaining funding for each section, which cost tens of millions each, was a political battle that often raged for years.
A missing link from East Deer, Tarentum and Harrison, was completed in 1984, and converting Route 28's “death stretch” in what is now the southern end of the expressway in and near Pittsburgh occurred in incremental steps.
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media. Comments regarding this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-226-4666.