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Routes 28, 910 among roadways to receive PennDOT attention

| Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009

PennDOT construction projects for next year will continue work started in 2009 to improve roads used by Alle-Kiski Valley drivers.

The Etna Bridge project on Route 28 will start its fifth phase in the early spring with rehabilitation of the remaining ramps and northbound Route 28, which will have major traffic impacts, PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said.

There will be no detour but traffic will be forced to cross over from the northbound lanes to one southbound lane so crews can repave the northbound lanes, which will cost between $30 million and $40 million, he said.

The project was at the top of PennDOT District 11's list of construction projects scheduled for work in 2010, released last week. Other PennDOT districts in the Alle-Kiski Valley plan to announce their lists in January.

Also planned for next year is the completion of improvements to Route 910 from Route 28 to Locust Hill Road that began this year. The repaving will start again in the fall, Struzzi said.

The $10 million project was partially funded through federal stimulus money, he said.

Resurfacing of the Highland Park Bridge was listed among the 2010 projects, but the work has not been put out for bid yet and there is no time line established. The project will include milling and resurfacing and should not include closures, Struzzi said.

Replacement of signal lights with LED traffic signals is listed for 2010, but was already completed. Local replacements included the intersections along Freeport Road at Broadview Boulevard and Princeton Avenue in Harrison; Freeport Road and Spring Hill Road in Harrison; and Alpha Drive and Gamma Drive in O'Hara.

Without firm state and federal funding, the local PennDOT district might curtail other projects on the $300 million early list of road, bridge and safety work planned for 2010, officials said last week.

"At some point after the beginning of the year, we'll have to re-examine our (planned contracts)," said PennDOT district executive Dan Cessna. "We've been plotting things out as if it were funded at 2009 levels. ... If Congress keeps passing continuing resolutions, there's going to have to be cuts."

Some work is guaranteed, including stimulus-funded projects such as the Fort Duquesne Bridge rehabilitation, and those under way, such as the reconfiguration of the 22/30/60 interchange on the Parkway West. But Congress keeps passing temporary legislation that extends an expired transportation bill and gives states less money, Cessna said.

Act 44, the state's transportation funding bill, is another uncertainty, Cessna said. The 2007 bill assumed the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission would take over Interstate 80 in the northern half of the state and start charging tolls. The Federal Highway Administration is reviewing the commission's application to charge tolls.

Without them, the turnpike's contribution to state transportation accounts will drop from $900 million this year to $450 million next year, affecting plans for 2011.

Replacing or repairing bridges is a priority for Allegheny County, with 30 bridges to be put to bid in 2010 or under contract. Beaver County had 12 bridge projects, and Lawrence County, eight.

Among larger road projects for next year is resurfacing the outbound Parkway East from Churchill to Monroeville. Crews worked on inbound lanes this year, Cessna said. That project is estimated to cost $25 million to $35 million.

"It will be a short rest, because in 2011-2012, we'll start major renovations on the Squirrel Hill Tunnel," Cessna said.

PennDOT will begin work to widen Route 28 north of the 31st Street Bridge, and will reconfigure the intersection at the 40th Street Bridge so southbound traffic can bypass the traffic signal for motorists turning onto and off 40th Street.

Work to move railroad tracks, bike trails and a pier on the 31st Street Bridge has begun, and will include exit ramps to separate turning vehicles from through-traffic. But those ramps won't connect to anything until the agency has money in 2011 to finish reconfiguring the interchange and widening the highway south of the bridge, Cessna said.

Staff writer Matthew Santoni contributed to this report.

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