Highway construction gears up for season

Kathie Warco
Observer Reporter

As one construction project on Interstate 70 starts to wind down and two more continue, drivers traveling the highway in Washington County should be prepared for two new construction zones.

There will be five construction projects on different stretches of the highway between the welcome center in Donegal Township and the Centerville/Monongahela interchange.

“The five major projects on I-70 is costing about $298 million,” said Scott Faieta, assistant construction engineer for the state Department of Transportation’s District 12. “That is putting a lot of money into the economy between the construction workers and materials.”

The “mega job,” as Faieta calls it, and the biggest project in the district, which also includes Greene, Fayette and Westmoreland counties, is the reconstruction of five-and-a-half miles of I-70 between the East Beau Street and Route 519 interchanges. The $117.8 million project by Lane Construction will begin this spring and is due to be completed in October 2020.

“Between Beau and the south junction with Interstate 79, we will be adding a third lane in each direction to match what we did at Murtland Avenue,” Faieta said. “Eventually, there will be three travel lanes between the north and south junctions of I-79.”

The stretch between the south junction and Route 519 will remain two lanes in each direction, Faieta said.

Over the next two weeks, crews will be clearing vegetation and doing some environmental work. There also will be paving done on the shoulders of the highway. The old material will be removed, and it will have a full-depth construction to handle traffic when it has to be shifted during the construction of the main line of the interstate.

“Some drainage and median excavation work will also be done this year,” Faieta said. “We will be getting ready to switch the traffic when we start reconstruction of the highway next year. It will be all concrete.”

Most of the work will be done between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Meanwhile, work by Golden Triangle Construction on the diverging diamond project at the Murtland Avenue interchange should wrap up this summer. That project began in September 2014.

“The crews need to diamond grind the concrete so the surface is smoother,” Faieta said. “They also will be finishing the curbs as well as finishing the median and islands.”

Milling and paving a portion of Route 19 also will be done.

“I expect they will be out by July, and that will be five or six months ahead of schedule,” he added. “And it will likely come in under budget.”

Faieta said it was one of the most successful projects he has been involved in during his 26-year career at PennDOT.

Drivers heading east on the highway will continue to see work done at the Bentleyville/Ginger Hill interchanges and at the Centerville/Monongahela interchanges.

Work on the $75.8 million project at the Bentleyville interchange, also being done by Golden Triangle, will be completed in December 2018. The eastbound side of the highway will be built this construction season. Work also will be done on Wilson Road under the highway.

“There will be some lane closures at night, and expect delays on Wilson,” Faieta said.

The $24.7 million rebuild of the highway at the Centerville interchange by Gullisek Construction will be done in December.

“We are redoing the interchange and reconstructing Route 481,” Faieta said. “The eastbound lanes were done last year, and the westbound lanes will be done this year.”

Faieta said the bridge that carries Cross Ridge Road is being demolished. There will be a brief closure of the interstate at night later this month so the beams can be removed. Faieta said it will not be replaced.

Drivers who use I-70 west of Washington will see work in that area starting April 17. The $17.4 million project is also being done by Golden Triangle.

“We’ll be doing a lot of milling and paving over the next six months out there,” Faieta said. “There will be long-term lane closures when work is done on the bridges.”

Faieta said a lane will be closed on only one bridge in each direction. He said the lane closure will be limited to the immediate area of the bridge.

“Hopefully, drivers will still be able to get through quickly since the area closed will be short,” Faieta said.

PennDOT also is working on state-maintained roads in several municipalities.

Morganza Road at the intersections of McClelland Road and Cavasina Drive is being rebuilt. Turning lanes will be added on both McClelland and Cavasina. A barrier will eventually be added so drivers will no longer be able to go left from Morganza onto Bobby Vinton Boulevard or make a left turn from Bobby Vinton onto Morganza. Michael Facchiano Contracting is the contractor for the $1.4 million project, which should be done by September.

“That intersection has been the area of quite a few accidents,” Faieta said. “Traffic will be funneled onto Cavasina and the traffic signal to get to Morganza.”

The intersection will stay open during construction of the Cavasina side of the intersection. Drivers will not be able to go off Morganza onto Cavasina, but drivers will be able to exit from Cavasina, Faieta said.

A $3.1 million project by Frank Gavlik and Sons will improve the intersection at Routes 88 and 837 near the Donora and Monongahela line. Faieta said a turning lane be added. Work is slated to be done in November.

“Traffic is congested in that area, so drivers can expect delays, Faieta said, adding that while most work is being done at night, some has to be done between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., with flaggers controlling traffic.

Drivers in the Avella area can expect to take a detour when the bridge on Meadowcroft Road over Cross Creek in Independence Township is demolished and replaced later this year. Faieta expects work on the $1.7 million project to begin in June and be completed by October.

Another bridge construction project in northern Washington County is the replacement of a bridge that takes Clinton-Frankfort Road over Raccoon Creek in Hanover Township. The contractor for this $1.13 million project is Swank Construction.

Drivers can expect to take a 10-mile detour while the bridge is closed between June and September, Faieta said.