Long-planned Lincoln Way project finally has start date
A project that has been in the planning stages for more than a decade, the widening of Lincoln Way in White Oak, is near fruition.
Plum Contracting Inc. of Salem Township is the low bidder at just under $7 million for work on Lincoln Way between Route 48 and State Street, which will involve roadway reconstruction, signal improvements, drainage and sidewalks.
“The project won't get under way until March of next year but there will be utility relocation happening,” PennDOT District 11 spokesman Steve Cowan said. “The project manager is planning a meeting soon.”
Four other bids were submitted, ranging from $7.67 million to $7.76 million.
“What we were originally looking at was between $8 and $10 million,” White Oak Local Development Corp. executive director Wayne C. Washowich said. “Some of the aspects of the project changed over the years.”
The plan involves repaving the roadway, a 3-foot grassy buffer zone, 8-inch curbs and 5-foot sidewalks.
“You will be able to be on a sidewalk along the entire length of the project,” Washowich said. “Those sidewalks will be alternating on either side” with crosswalks.
There will be one traffic signal where two now exist, as junctures with Guice Street and Henderson Road will become one intersection.
“It will speed up everyone's time,” Washowich said.
A turning lane will be available for much of the distance up the hill from the intersection with Route 48.
Plum CEO John Mills said on Thursday that his company officially was awarded the contract this week.
Mills said his company will send surveyors to White Oak to map rights of way “any day now.” He has not yet been in touch with White Oak officials.
PennDOT District 11 executive Dan Cessna was in touch with White Oak officials during Wednesday's annual tour of 35th Legislative District roads conducted by state Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak.
“We are basically going to build the project in thirds,” Cessna said. “We're going to work on one side of the road, the other side of the road and then the middle ... so that we can maintain a lane in each direction at all times.”
PennDOT and White Oak officials said completion is expected by the spring of 2015. That's approximately 17 years after the first modern-day discussions of Lincoln Way.
Washowich partnered with former White Oak mayor Jack Patterson and then-mayor Milton Lebowitz to revitalize the idea of widening Lincoln Way.
During his tenure as council president, Washowich said he had to convince his colleagues to designate Lincoln Way as “blighted” so the borough could do a feasibility study.
“Under ‘blighted,' the definition was not run down,” Washowich said. “It was more inefficient. The definition fit for the area because entrances and exits were all over the place. It was like the Wild West. The safety issues were a major concern for the blighted area designation.”
Now utility relocation is part of the preparation.
“There are a lot of moving parts to it,” Washowich said. “A lot of utility companies were involved.”
Portions of properties along the roadway were acquired, forcing adjustments. Earlier this summer, for instance, First Commonwealth Bank brought in crews to move its streetside signs closer to its White Oak branch to accommodate the widening process.
“It is going to reinject life into the area,” Washowich said. “It is really going to look nice.”
The White Oak Local Development Corp. director said he hopes it will stem a recent migration of businesses across the Westmoreland County line into North Huntingdon Township.
Washowich said he never lost hope that the widening project would happen.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “There were people who said it would never happen, that it's wishful thinking.”
He added, “Our board stuck together. Our board worked very hard on it.”
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.