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Route 981 in Latrobe will have another bridge detour next summer — but only for a weekend

Jeff Himler
| Thursday, June 28, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
This map shows a detour route that will be in place for a weekend in July 2019 while PennDOT replaces the Route 981 bridge over Unity Run in Latrobe. The small red box marks the bridge's location.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
This map shows a detour route that will be in place for a weekend in July 2019 while PennDOT replaces the Route 981 bridge over Unity Run in Latrobe. The small red box marks the bridge's location.

Motorists in Latrobe who have just welcomed the end of detours around bridge construction on Route 981 will face a similar detour next summer.

But the July 2019 reroute around the bridge over Unity Run should last for just one weekend, project planners say.

The official detour will follow Industrial Boulevard and Routes 982 and 30 in Derry and Unity townships.

That's the same 9-mile route used over the past two years, when trucks and all southbound traffic were restricted from crossing the Route 981 bridge over Loyalhanna Creek.

Two-way traffic resumed last week on the Loyalhanna bridge, but intermittent traffic interruptions may occur as a PennDOT contractor wraps up rehabilitation of that span.

The Unity Run bridge isn't noticeable to drivers because the stream flows inside grass-covered box culverts buried on either side of Route 981, said Robert T. Elliott Jr., project manager for PennDOT engineering consultant CDR Maguire.

The bridge is located just south of the Latrobe Fire Department's Hose House 6 and is between the intersections of River Avenue and Mary Street.

The bridge superstructure is a concrete-encased steel girder that is aging and in need of replacement, Elliott said during an open-house plan display Thursday evening in city council chambers.

“It's just in poor condition,” he said.

During the weekend closure, it will be replaced with pre-cast concrete slabs, set atop existing abutments and topped with fresh pavement.

Elliott said the hope is to complete that crucial weekend work in mid-July 2019 — after Latrobe's annual Fourth of July celebration and parade and before the city's annual festival that recognizes the local origin of the banana split.

Sidewalk access for pedestrians will be maintained throughout the bridge construction, and traffic in both directions will be uninterrupted save for the single weekend closure, Elliott said.

Planners expect the entire Unity Run project to take about 17 weeks to complete. Elliott could not provide an estimated cost for the project, which includes sidewalk reconstruction. It is to be let for bids in October, with construction expected to begin next spring.

As part of the project, the contractor also will line the stream bottom under the road with a concrete slab to eliminate erosion.

“We're putting a concrete slab on the bottom of the stream and concrete facing on the walls to tie the two upstream and downstream box culverts together,” Elliott said.

Nearly 11,300 vehicles per day travel on the affected section of Route 981, according to project officials.

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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