Officials kick off Route 422 realignment project in Armstrong County
KITTANNING TOWNSHIP — One of the most dangerous sections of Route 422 in Armstrong County is starting to get its safety makeover.
On Friday morning, local, state and federal elected officials broke ground close to the highway beside Kittanning Township Fire Hall to kick off the Route 422 Theater Road Realignment project.
The $9.15 million safety improvement project will realign more than one mile of the existing roadway between Wray Plan Road and Rupp Church Road in Manor and Kittanning townships.
A center turn lane will be constructed east of Lasher Road (Township Route 850) and end near Rupp Church Road (Township Route 570).
In addition, Theater Road, Graham Road and Rupp Church Road intersections will be realigned and a left turn lane will be constructed.
Orange PennDOT signs are in place to alert drivers to slow down.
George McFeaters, PennDOT project manager, said two-lane traffic will be maintained Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Saturdays will be used once the project reaches the point of tying in the crossovers between the old and new construction, said McFeaters.
Deborah Casadei, PennDOT District 10 public information officer, said the contract was awarded to A. Liberoni, of Plum.
The project, which is expected to be completed by late fall 2014, is a collaborative effort between Armstrong and Indiana counties and elected officials at the local, state and federal level.
“It was something that needed to be done,” said U.S. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, whose district includes all of Armstrong County.
State Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, praised the way people in the neighboring counties worked together to make the project happen.
He said most counties tend to be pretty parochial about their dollars. But in this case, the safety of motorists became the focus, regardless of where they lived.
“This is an immediate need,” said White.
State Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, mentioned the numerous accidents along the corridor, which included at least five fatalities in the last 10 years. He recalled meeting with former and current commissioners from both counties concerning the blind curve at the crest of a hill near Theater Road.
State Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, echoed Pyle's concern:
“We have too many of our residents having accidents on this stretch of (Route) 422,” said Reed.
Armstrong County Commissioner Dave Battaglia said that close to 13,000 motorists travel that portion of highway on a daily basis. He thanked all those involved in getting the project under way, including the six homeowners who sold their homes to make room for the road realignment.
Indiana County Commissioner Rod Ruddock said most of issues with Route 422 happened on the Armstrong County side. The project area was clearly identified as having had the most fatalities, he said, so that's where the emphasis has been.
“If we believe in getting thing's done, then we should put away barriers,” said Ruddock. “People driving don't care if they are on the Indiana (County) side or the Armstrong County side. They just want to be safe.”
After the official groundbreaking, Kittanning Township Fire Chief Steve Baker said he welcomes the upcoming safety improvements.
Right now, there is a dangerous issue with visibility for fire trucks or drivers pulling out of the fire department's driveway onto the highway. He said there are about three or four vehicle collisions there every year.
“It's terrible,” said Baker. “It's a gamble — it's like playing a game of Russian roulette.”
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.