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Freeport Bridge tops spring road projects in Armstrong County

| Friday, March 29, 2013, 10:30 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Seen from Freeport Road in Buffalo, construction continues on the Freeport Bridge, spanning Buffalo and Allegheny Townships on Thursday, March 28,2013
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Seen from Route 356 near the Riverforest Golf Club, construction continues on the Freeport Bridge, spanning Buffalo and Allegheny Townships on Thursday, March 28,2013

KITTANNING TOWNSHIP — It's finally spring — despite the seemingly endless snow flurries — and that means motorists can expect to see more orange cones along area roads and bridges.

Current and future transportation projects and issues were discussed on Thursday when local, county and state representatives and leaders met with PennDOT Engineering District 10 officials at Kittanning Township Fire Hall.

District 10 encompasses Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Jefferson and Indiana counties.

Paul Koza, assistant district executive for construction, outlined the 2013 construction projects which include several carry-over projects.

Of those carry-over projects, the Freeport Bridge replacement— formerly spearheaded by District 12 which covers Westmoreland County — is the most costly project, topping the price list at $64 million.

Koza told the gathering that the project, which began in June 2010, is 66 percent completed and is expected to be finished in November.

And even though the Slabtown Bridge realignment along Route 28 in Boggs has a more modest construction cost of around $6 million (expected to be completed by July 2014), Koza said it is one of the county's major projects — similar to the $9 million Theater Road realignment project along Route 422, near the Kittanning Township Fire Hall.

Five additional bridge replacements are also currently underway and include Buffalo Mills Bridge, West Franklin, for around $1 million; McAuley Bridge, Boggs, for $716,628; Taylor Run Bridge and Spur Run Bridge, Bethel, for close to $2 million; and Hoosicks Mills Bridge, Cowanshannock, for $994,171.

Many of the projects shown in the presentation are still in the preliminary engineering phases and are not yet funded for construction.

One of those costlier projects includes new alignment at the Margaret Road Intersection along Route 422 in Plumcreek. The construction estimate for that project is between $15 million and $20 million.

However, Brian Allen, assistant district executive, said that future design projects are subject to funding availability.

Assistant District Executive Joseph P. Dubovi III, noted that Gov. Tom Corbett's plan of cutting pennies from oil companies flat tax over the next five years to invest in transportation has the potential to inject close to $2 billion in state and local roads.

Michael Shanshala, maintenance services engineer, spoke on safety improvements and goals to reduce fatal crashes in the county.

In 2012, eight out of the 10 fatalities in Armstrong County were either the result of drivers not using seat belts or from driving under the influence, said Shanshala.

“That concerns us as a district,” he said, adding that PennDOT is working with state police to plan more DUI checkpoints and is sponsoring child car seat fitting events. “We're looking at more ways to drive that number (of fatal crashes) down,” said Shanshala.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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