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Investigation continues in Zelienople crash that killed preganant Beaver County woman

| Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Motorists drive over the Muntz Run Bridge on Route 68 in Zelienople Friday. The bridge is being replaced and a portion of Route 68 straightened in the project, which begins Monday and is scheduled to last through November.
Motorists drive over the Muntz Run Bridge on Route 68 in Zelienople Friday. The bridge is being replaced and a portion of Route 68 straightened in the project, which begins Monday and is scheduled to last through November.

Crews started putting up signs to warn motorists about construction along a stretch of Route 68 in Zelienople as investigators were reconstructing the scene of a June 10 accident that killed a pregnant Beaver County woman.

Zelienople police Chief James Miller said the road in the area of Muntz Run Bridge has been the site of several serious accidents, some fatal, over the past few years. He welcomes the construction project that begins Monday to replace the bridge and straighten a section of highway.

“If you look at the road, it's at a weird angle,” Miller said. “It has a weird turn. If this will stop accidents, that's good.”

Miller said police, including a state police reconstruction team, haven't finished investigating the collision between a car driven by Alyssa McKee, 19, of Baden and a tractor-trailer driven by Ronald Gross, 55, of Boyertown. Police said the rear of Gross' truck hit the driver's side of Miller's car.

Her passenger, Keven C. Snyder, of New Sewickley remained in serious condition in Allegheny General Hospital on Friday, recovering from crash injuries.

Miller said he's not sure whether the curve of the road factored into the crash. Gross said the road was wet.

Several years ago, a dump truck flipped over by the bridge, killing a motorist. A Zelienople woman remains a paraplegic from another accident at the location.

Accurate accident statistics aren't available because it's likely that drivers drove into one side of the bridge but didn't report the crash to police, Miller said.

Brian Steffy, an assistant construction engineer with PennDOT, said the bridge replacement and road straightening isn't in response to the latest accident.

PennDOT rated the bridge, built in 1948, as “structurally deficient,” and it aged to the point where it had to be replaced, Steffy said.

Crews have a rare chance to build the concrete box culvert bridge next to the existing one, Steffy said, allowing them to straighten and flatten Route 68.

The old bridge, close to the Beaver County line, carries nearly 4,600 vehicles daily. PennDOT won't detour traffic on Route 68 but cautioned motorists to watch for construction vehicles and crews.

Crews at some point will realign intersections of Muntz Run and Ben Venue roads.

They should finish the $942,000 construction project by November.

Bill Vidonic is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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