Downed power lines keep Route 228 closed
PennDOT intends to take “a hard look” at why a row of nine utility poles and several light poles snapped along Route 228 in Cranberry during storms, sending wires, wood and metal crashing onto the heavily traveled road and causing traffic jams expected to stretch into Thursday, an agency official said.
“I was dumbfounded when I was told the wind knocked these down,” said Bob Skrak, PennDOT's maintenance manager in Butler County. “I'm certain that we'll take a hard look at this, why it failed and what failed.”
Some poles had been standing only a few months, having been erected as part of Route 228 upgrades at the Interstate 79 interchange.
“You can't make your infrastructure weatherproof,” said Penn Power spokesman Chris Eck, who blamed the collapse on an act of nature, not a design flaw. “Mother Nature can always brew up something stronger than you can prepare for.”
Route 228 between Route 19 and the Westinghouse complex was expected to remain closed at least until mid-day on Thursday, said Cranberry spokesman Peter Longini.
An 85 mph downburst, at the top range for the weakest tornadoes, hit about 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Moon. The same storm caused damage in Crescent, the weather service said.
Nine wooden utility poles owned by Penn Power and several metal streetlight poles owned by PennDOT toppled and snapped off at their bases. The damage was similar to what utility crews find after hurricanes, Penn Power crews said.
The affected section, which spans Interstate 79, gets stronger winds than other portions of Route 228, Cranberry Manager Jerry Andree said. Township crews recently had to stabilize one pole that holds traffic signals at the Interstate 79 interchange because wind was making the pole bounce, Andree said. The pole withstood Tuesday's storm.
The township doesn't own any of the poles that fell, Andree said.
“I have confidence in Penn Power, that if there was something wrong, they'll identify that,” Andree said.
Crews didn't know which pole failed first, but Eck said they suspect heavy electric, cable and phone service wires felled the metal poles.
PennDOT estimates 40,000 motorists travel that stretch each weekday.
No motorists were injured, though wires landed on two vehicles, said Cranberry police Sgt. Chuck Mascellino.
“There were probably several close calls,” Mascellino said.
PennDOT and Penn Power said the poles are designed to snap when hit by a vehicle to lessen the effects of impact.
PennDOT is expected to finish a project to add ramps and widen part of Freedom Road at the interchange in the fall.
Crews from Ohio Edison, Penn Power, Consolidated Communications and other utilities worked to clean, repair damage, erect new utility poles and string utility lines.
Township officials alerted motorists through social media about closures and delays. Motorists used routes 8 and 910 as detours. Police reported heavy delays on Route 19 and other roads, including Franklin Road into Allegheny County and Interstate 79.
Lyndsey Golla, 19, of Mars said a trip between McDonald's restaurants on Route 228 and Route 19 in Marshall and on Franklin and Freeport roads that normally takes a few minutes took between 20 and 25 minutes. Golla is a manager for the restaurant chain.
“It wasn't too bad, but if you were headed for work or an appointment, it could be extremely frustrating,” Golla said.
Police coordinated their response by blocking roads leading to Route 228. Electronic signs advised motorists to take alternate routes.
Westinghouse officials said attendance seemed to be normal on Wednesday. Nearby businesses along Route 228 were open. Penn Power rerouted the power grid to prevent outages. Some businesses, including Noodles & Company and La-Z-Boy, both in Cranberry Crossroads along Route 228, reported slower business than usual.
“If this had been a Friday or Saturday, it would have been rough,” said Louis Constant, a sales manager at La-Z-Boy.
Flooding caused PennDOT to close Route 38 between the Route 68 ramp in Summit and West Sunbury Road in Oakland.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Evans City looks to pool resources for repairs
- Cranberry woman robbed at gunpoint at apartment complex
- Fate of Zelienople senior center still murky
- Families still flock to Big Butler Fair
- Oxford filing seeks to overturn award of VA project to Cambridge
- Part-time dispatchers hired to handle Butler police calls
- PennDOT considers new option for Ball’s Bend
- Butler County officials apply for grant to combat overdoses
- Mysterious coin donor again helps cover cost of Zelienople fireworks