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Excela Health to begin demolition of Latrobe structures; Second Avenue traffic disruptions eyed

Jeff Himler
| Monday, April 23, 2018, 10:30 p.m.
Excela Health's vacant Women's Care Services building is scheduled for demolition beginning the week of April 24, 2018, to make way for a parking lot across Second Avenue from Latrobe Hospital in Latrobe.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
Excela Health's vacant Women's Care Services building is scheduled for demolition beginning the week of April 24, 2018, to make way for a parking lot across Second Avenue from Latrobe Hospital in Latrobe.

Traffic restrictions are anticipated on Latrobe's Second Avenue, and a temporary detour is possible, as Excela Health demolishes two structures adjacent to its Latrobe Hospital in the days ahead.

A project contractor is staging equipment this week, with the intent of beginning demolition Friday of Excela's former Women's Care Services building on the opposite side of Second Avenue from the hospital. Demolition of a multilevel parking garage next to the hospital is set for the following week, weather permitting, Excela spokeswoman Robin Jennings said.

Rather than imploding the garage, the contractor will take down the floor levels gradually, allowing crews to salvage steel beams once the surrounding concrete is removed.

“The intent is to do it in pieces, so you remove the beams as you go,” Jennings said.

Excela doesn't intend to reuse the steel, she said. The contractor will decide how to dispose of it.

Removal of the beams may prompt a temporary detour of traffic around that section of Second Avenue, Jennings indicated. The overall garage demolition is expected to require a lengthier restriction of the street to a single lane of traffic.

Councilman Jim Kelley this week asked whether vehicles can be rerouted onto adjacent Tacoma Avenue to avoid traffic tie-ups. Second Avenue is part of an unofficial route out of downtown Latrobe that many motorists are using while the Loyalhanna Creek bridge on Route 981 remains under reconstruction by PennDOT and is limited to inbound, non-truck traffic.

City Manager Wayne Jones suggested speeding might become a concern on Tacoma, which lacks the multiple stop signs Second has. He said traffic could get backed up at Second Avenue and Ligonier Street, which is controlled by stop signs.

Excela has knocked on the doors of nearby homes to alert residents to the upcoming demolition, Jennings said. “Everybody realizes it is a disruption when you're doing demolition in a residential neighborhood,” she said.

The plan is for the contractor to work 12-hour days, beginning at 7 a.m. Monday through Thursday, to complete the demolition as quickly as possible, Jennings said.

The Women's Care Services building was vacated recently when many of Excela's Latrobe-area outpatient services relocated to its new Excela Square at Latrobe ambulatory care center in neighboring Unity.

The vacant building and the garage will be replaced with at-grade parking lots. The new lots are slated for completion by as soon as early August, according to Jennings. The lots will be easier and less costly to maintain than the parking garage, she has said.

The local ArTECH group is in charge of the demolition and parking projects.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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