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PennDOT to spend $290M on projects in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties

| Friday, March 1, 2013, 11:43 p.m.

PennDOT plans to spend $290 million on road and bridge work this year in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, down slightly from last year, officials said Friday.

The agency will start replacing the Hulton Bridge in Oakmont, an $80 million project that is the single biggest in PennDOT's District 11 in about a decade, said District Executive Dan Cessna.

“The goal is to get it done before the U.S. Open in 2016,” Cessna said, referring to the golf tournament scheduled for a ninth time at Oakmont Country Club.

The 104-year-old, two-lane bridge spans about 1,500 feet across the Allegheny River, connecting Oakmont and Harmar. It is one of the worst-rated bridges in Western Pennsylvania, with a sufficiency rating of 3 out of 100, but carries about 20,000 vehicles a day, PennDOT records show.

“It will provide considerable congestion relief,” Cessna said of the replacement bridge, which will be four lanes wide. It will be upstream from the existing span, enabling PennDOT to maintain traffic flow across the river.

Crews will begin the work this fall.

Other projects in Allegheny County include continued work in the Squirrel Hill and Liberty tunnels, replacement of the West Carson Street Viaduct and improvements along Route 19 in the North Hills and Route 28. All of the projects have price tags of more than $20 million.

PennDOT plans to complete $23 million in repairs on the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge in Beaver County and $20.2 million in improvements along Interstate 376 in Lawrence County.

The $49.5 million Squirrel Hill Tunnel project will require up to nine weekend closures and lengthy detours, most of them affecting outbound motorists.

“It will be the most impactful local project,” Cessna said.

The first weekend closure is scheduled from 11 p.m. March 22 through 6 a.m. March 25. Other outbound closures are planned April 5-8, April 19-22 and April 26-29. Crews are increasing the clearance inside the tunnel by more than a foot, to 14 feet, 9 inches.

A project to improve the Liberty Tunnel will enter its fourth phase and cost up to $30 million. Cessna said crews will put a smooth, white surface on the interior walls, restoring the tunnel's original look. Two 18-day-long tunnel closures — one in each direction — will occur, starting in August.

A fifth phase of work will be done next year.

The West Carson Street Viaduct project, expected to cost up to $45 million, will result in “significant” detours for northbound traffic and affect outbound traffic on the Port Authority's West Busway, Cessna said.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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