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PennDOT to seek bids for long-awaited road project

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 8:36 p.m.

In his 19 years as a Penn Township resident, Ed Sullivan has trouble remembering a time when Harrison City-Export Road was in good condition near its intersection with Route 130.

Among the reasons are an “s” curve and the two narrow travel lanes, which provided the impetus for an estimated $3.62 million state project to widen and straighten out the road.

After 10 years of planning, the state Department of Transportation will begin soliciting bids for the project next week.

Sullivan, a commissioner whose ward includes the intersection, said he's surprised there aren't more crashes along the .2 mile between the Westmoreland County road's intersections with Raymaley Road and Route 130.

He likened that stretch to going through an obstacle course, and said he witnessed cars hitting potholes and curbs there while teaching his daughters how to drive.

“The reconstruction of the roadway will not only provide for safer travel, but also improve the look of a heavily traveled area of the township,” Sullivan said.

“The entire road structure is a mess, and it has been that way for a long time.”

In January, Westmoreland County commissioners approved an agreement with the state in which they updated the estimated cost from $1.84 million to $3.62 million.The state will pay for 80 percent, with the county picking up the rest through its liquid-fuels funding.

County Engineer Henry Fitz said the cost of acquiring rights-of-way boosted the estimated price. The increase was expected, but the state generally waits to revise project agreements to avoid tying up money for projects before they occur, he said.

One of the enhancements will be the addition of a left-turn lane at the Route 130 intersection.

The construction also will include a new bridge over a creek and provide a safer turn from Harrison City-Export Road onto Municipal Court, which leads to the township offices and the municipal park.

“It's pretty narrow there,” Fitz said. “It's an old road, so that will be a big improvement.”

The state is scheduled to award a contract on April 25, Fitz said. Construction is on pace to begin this summer and continue through the fall of 2014.

An officer with the Penn-Trafford Business Association said she thinks the project will be a significant improvement for drivers in the busy Harrison City business district.

“I just think, for the sake of safety, that it's probably long overdue and a necessity,” said Gail Collier, the group's vice president.

Sullivan said he looks at the project as the first phase to a potential reconstruction of the Route 130 corridor.

“As the road improvements progress, so will the development of business,” he said. “The township needs these type of infrastructure improvements to compete for even small businesses.”

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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