Major I-70 work heading for Washington, Westmoreland counties

Mike Jones & Scott Beveridge
Observer Reporter

Interstate 70 will continue to have major construction zones in Washington and Westmoreland counties through 2020 under the four-year draft transportation improvement program released Friday by Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

The plan earmarks $113.4 million to reconstruct and widen I-70 from its south junction at Interstate 79 in South Strabane Township to the Route 519 interchange in Somerset Township; complete the new interchanges under construction at Bentleyville; and reconstruct the interchanges at Arnold City and Route 51, both of which are in Rostraver Township.

“There’s a lot of big work in Washington and Westmoreland counties,” said Doug Smith, an SPC department director in Pittsburgh.

Smith said millions of dollars are also earmarked for Washington and Greene counties to replace small bridges that are structurally deficient.

Washington County will receive $187.8 million for 51 projects, 39 of which involve replacing small bridges.

The transportation improvement plan calls for nearly $41 million in spending in Greene County during the four-year period, and 28 of the 31 projects involve work on small bridges.

The biggest portion of the Greene spending plan is $7.5 million to maintain Route 18 from West Waynesburg to Holbrook. The second-largest project includes improvements to the Sugar Run Road intersection expected to cost $4.135 million.

The other large projects include $3.8 million earmarked to maintain Route 218 from Waynesburg to Bluff Ridge Road at the southern tip of Franklin Township. Another project includes $3.6 million to rehabilitate the Whiteley Creek Bridge in Whiteley Township.

The total money expected to be allocated for transportation projects in Greene County is down by about 7 percent from the previous plan two years ago that called for $44 million in spending.

Greene County Planning and Business Development Manager Jeremy Kelly said the amount is on par with what was expected. He pointed to a  number of large projects in recent years – Morrisville train trestle, Route 21 bridge over the Monongahela River and Route 218 overpass in Waynesburg, to name a few – and those are now off the TIP books.

“The transportation (money) is about what we expected to see,” Kelly said. “Of course, we always want more projects. Who doesn’t?”

However, he said they are not yet seeing the full impact of Act 89 that raised the gasoline tax and other fees. But Greene County is still getting its fair share compared to the other larger counties in District 12 that includes Washington, Fayette and Westmoreland, he said.

Lisa Cessna, executive director of the Washington County Planning Commission, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The largest project in Washington County, excluding the I-70 work, involves spending $23.5 million to widen Route 519 at routes 980 and 19 in North Strabane Township, an intersection that also will receive traffic signals under the plan.

Public comment on the transportation plan for Greene County will be received at 5 p.m. May 18 in the county office building at 93 E. High St. in Waynesburg.

Public comment on the plan for Washington County will be received at 3 p.m. May 23 in Room 103 in Courthouse Square in Washington.