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Greensburg bridge work to force detours

| Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A Greensburg street will be blocked off for the winter and spring so a bridge can be replaced.

Additionally, motorists will have to contend with uneven pavement and bumpy spots for a few more months on two city streets where utility companies have been working.

Workers will replace the Laird Street bridge at the entrance to Offutt Field, resulting in the street being closed to both immediate sides of the bridge for several months, said City Administrator Sue Trout and city engineer Eric Robl. A detour will be set up, they said.

Paving of sections of East Pittsburgh and East Otterman streets, where Peoples Natural Gas and the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County have been working, has been delayed to the spring, PennDOT officials said.

A contractor could start the Laird Street bridge work as soon mid-November, Trout said.

“It's not going to affect football games (at Offutt),” Trout said, “because the games will be over.”

City, state and federal officials have been considering replacing the bridge over Jacks Run for more than a decade.

“The bridge needs to be replaced, no doubt about it,” Trout said.

PennDOT officials are overseeing the approximately $1 million project. State and federal governments are paying 95 percent of the tab, with Greensburg contributing about $52,000, Trout said.

“It was structurally deficient,” PennDOT project manager Josh Zakovitch said. “It means it was in dire need of repair or replacement.”

PennDOT officials project the bridge work will be finished by July 22.

Business owners and others on Laird Street are aware of the work being done, Trout said.

“(Customers) will still have access to those locations,” she added.

Gina Burkett, owner of Gina's Hair Design on Laird Street, said if the street were closed at its intersection with South Urania Avenue that would create problems for her.

“My customers, I assume, will be able to get in,” she said. “That's the busiest time of the year for us. It would close me if they shut it down completely.”

The intersection may have to be closed for the contractor to bring materials to the work site, but such closures should be temporary, Robl said.

PennDOT officials said they realize the work will be an annoyance for motorists, businesses and others in the work area.

“Anytime a road is closed, it's going to have some inconvenience,” PennDOT spokesman Jay Ofsanik said. “But being a local bridge in a city, there's a lot of ways for people to get around that.”

“They're improvements that have to be made,” Greensburg Mayor Ron Silvis said. “I guess they have to put up with it. But Laird Street shouldn't have too much (of a) problem.”

Workers initially will trim trees and relocate utilities, Trout said.

In addition to the bridge replacement, workers will be updating signs and pavement markings.

In the spring, PennDOT workers will be paving sections of East Otterman and East Pittsburgh streets, where motorists have been inconvenienced by work by the utilities working on two main city arteries.

PennDOT delayed paving because of the utilities' projects, Ofsanik and others said. The water authority finished its work about two months ago.

“They indicated they had to do line replacement, and we worked with them and moved our paving to next spring,” Ofsanik said.

PennDOT decides when work is done on its streets, and even if city officials don't like the delay in paving they have little recourse, city planner Barbara Ciampini said.

“These are PennDOT streets, so PennDOT makes the decisions regarding their own streets,” she said. “The city has been involved in the public utility repairs ... to these streets as a courtesy to our residents for communication purposes because construction on these streets generally impacts our city.”

Representatives of the natural gas company have assured city officials that Main Street, where Peoples has been replacing lines, will be paved before the end of this month, Trout said.

“That has been their focus, to get Main Street done,” she said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

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