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I-70 project creates local traffic concerns in Bentleyville

| Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 1:42 a.m.

The Interstate 70 stretch between the Bentleyville and Ginger Hill exits has one of the highest accidents rates along the Pennsylvania section of the highway.

Still, some Bentleyville residents and officials are concerned that the plans for the Bentleyville Interchange Improvement Project will create local traffic problems.

PennDOT recently conducted a public forum to explain plans for the project, which, as proposed, would not begin construction until 2016.

Preliminary design and environmental clearance is ongoing. Right-of-way acquisition and final design will follow.

PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said the safety issue involves design of the acceleration and deceleration lanes at the 32A and B and 35 exits. PennDOT's plan to get rid of Exit 32A (Ginger Hill) would improve safety there, Petersen said.

The project involves the widening of I-70 and replacement of the I-70 bridge at Route 481 as well as an interchange upgrade.

The project will involve the reconstruction of roughly 1,000 feet of Route 481, construction of an earth-retaining wall and extension of a culvert carrying I-70 over Pigeon Creek.

PennDOT will evaluate the feasibility of removing a bridge over I-70 because of a conflict with the eastbound on-ramp.

Two travel lanes will be maintained in each direction on the highway throughout the construction phase.

Route 481 will be detoured onto Crossridge Road prior to the demolition of the bridge over I-70. Likewise, the ramps will be detoured to the Lover Interchange, located approximately 2.5 miles east of the I-70/Route 481 interchange.

Bentleyville Mayor Tom Brown said he and some council members have concerns about the project. Brown attended the PennDOT event.

Brown said the Bentleyville residents' main concern is why PennDOT plans to close the Ginger Hill exit.

“Our question is ‘What's going to happen with all of the traffic when Exit 32A is closed?” Brown said.

Bentleyville, like many Mon Valley towns, is a bedroom community, Brown said.

“If you're going to Washington, you're going to go down Pittsburgh Road,” Brown said. “They won't be able to do that, either.”

Pittsburgh Road intersects I-70 at exits 32A and B.

Brown claimed PennDOT's plan to construct a roundabout at Exit 32B could cause traffic problems.

He said if traffic is backed up at the truck stop, it could cause delays at the roundabout exit.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or