PennDOT Begins 2013 Construction Season

Mar 1, 2013

While the beginning of construction season is still a few weeks away, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has opened bidding for projects across the state.

49 projects worth an estimated $282 million will be bid on in Allegheny County this year. Of these, 24 will involve replacing or improving bridges in the county—which are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

One such project will be a $15 million reconstruction of the Butler Street Bridge, located near the Pittsburgh Zoo.

“It’s a pretty rickety looking bridge right now,” said PennDOT District Executive Dan Cessna. “It’s been a very popular project from a community perspective, [and] we’ve worked very closely with the zoo and their stakeholders there.”

Two other projects in Allegheny County involve two tunnels currently undergoing renovation—the Squirrel Hill and Liberty Tunnels.

Much like last summer and fall, one side of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel will closed on certain weekends beginning March 22-25. This time the outbound tunnel will be closed while crews remove the tunnel ceiling. Cessna said the Squirrel Hill Tunnel detour will be the similar to the one used over the past year.

“Basically you’d get off at the Squirrel Hill exit, travel up Squirrel Hill, it’s going to go up through the business district at night and go through the residential community during the day, so that we keep the business communities open. And then it will wrap back down around Forbes Avenue back down South Braddock and back onto the parkway basically right near the BP gas station.”

Cessna said the restoration is on schedule.

“We’re anxious to get the tunnels back together so they’re easier to clean because they look pretty grungy now, and the lighting as you know when you’re traveling through there, the lighting looks bad, it desperately needs to be replaced, so the new lighting is going to go up in the inbound tunnels very shortly.”

The $49.5 million renovation of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel isn’t expected to be completed until the summer of 2014 and the Butler Street Bridge is expected to be fully rebuilt by December of 2015.