Project to expand Freedom Road bridge over turnpike moves forward
Construction is expected to begin in 2017 on the long-sought expansion of the Freedom Road bridge that spans the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Cranberry, the Turnpike Commission said on Thursday.
“It's the bottleneck on Freedom Road,” said township assistant manager Duane McKee. “It's probably the most expensive piece of the puzzle that we had to move on to expand the corridor.”
PennDOT officials said they hired Downtown engineering design firm HDR Inc. to design the $8.5 million bridge, which Cranberry officials said should carry five lanes, including one turning lane, over the turnpike. Sidewalks along either side of the bridge are a possibility, McKee said.
PennDOT and the commission reached an agreement to work together on the project.
PennDOT has earmarked $1 million for design work and $1.4 million for land acquisition, said Brian Allen, assistant district executive for District 10, which includes Butler County.
The turnpike will use toll money to pay for construction, said spokeswoman Sue Jones.
The Turnpike Commission raised tolls 2 percent this year, and in June announced a 5 percent toll increase effective Jan. 4. The commission said it was raising rates not only to pay for annual transportation-funding payments to PennDOT, but to maintain and repair its aging roadway system spanning more than 550 miles.
The Freedom Road project stalled several years ago, Allen said, because the state shifted money to repair structurally deficient bridges. Allen said the project was earmarked for funding before November's passage of the state transportation bill, which is expected to raise billions of dollars through an oil company franchise tax charged to wholesalers.
Design work should begin in the fall, Allen said. That, along with land purchases for rights of way, bidding and related tasks, mean it will be 2017 before construction begins.
There's no timetable for how long construction will last, but because it crosses the turnpike, “it won't be easy in that area. We will do our very best to minimize disruptions,” Allen said.
That section of Freedom Road carries about 25,000 vehicles daily, according to the township. In recent years, the township has spearheaded projects to alleviate traffic woes in the area, including installing new ramps from Route 228 west to Interstate 79 and widening Freedom Road from Route 19 to the turnpike bridge.
With the expanded bridge, McKee said, the township still hopes to pursue expansion efforts of the two-lane Freedom Road toward Beaver County.
With residential areas along that stretch of road, he said, “we'll be careful on how we move forward on that.”
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.