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Route 48 bridge work halfway done

| Thursday, March 29, 2007

Halfway through a project to replace the Route 48 bridge that connects North Versailles and Monroeville, PennDOT is breathing a sigh of relief, spokesman Jim Struzzi said.

Brayman Construction Corp., of Saxonburg, Butler County, has finished a two-lane span that crosses Turtle Creek and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, allowing the state to shift traffic from the old span, which was held together by metal patch plates.

"The old bridge was deteriorating rapidly, so it was good news for us and the traveling public to be able to use the new bridge," Struzzi said.

Workers are demolishing the old bridge so that another two-lane span can replace it. Work on that project is expected to last through this year, wrapping up sometime in 2008. The $16.7 million project will ultimately replace the old two-lane bridge with a divided, four-lane bridge.

Since the road on the North Versailles side is still two lanes, the extra lanes on the bridge will initially be used for turning lanes. The state plans to turn the road between the bridge and the Lincoln Highway into four lanes.

An average of 17,388 vehicles cross the bridge daily, according to PennDOT statistics.

Construction along the heavily traveled route has increased congestion, but Monroeville spokesman Joel Palaschak said the municipality believes most motorists understand that the long-term benefit of the bridge project outweighs any short-term inconvenience.

"We did receive some complaints, but nothing beyond what we expected," he said.

The state has kept the road open during construction by directing traffic around the work areas. Struzzi said the traffic pattern should hold through the summer with some minor variations.

"There may be some traffic shifts and changes at the intersections as they pave through them," he said.

Struzzi said the state can't predict whether the second span will open this year or sometime in 2008 because bad weather could slow the project.

"You never know what could happen," he said.

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