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BEAVER (KDKA) — White line to the right, barrier to the left. Driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike is pretty mindless work until someone decides to close the road.
“I know in these areas it’s not going to be an easy weekend,” says turnpike CEO Mark Compton.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike will close in both directions between Cranberry and the New Castle exits. It will remain open between New Castle and Rt. 18 Beaver.
They are closing the highway so the 60-year-old Brush Creek Bridge can be replaced. The new bridge has been under construction next to the existing bridge for the last few months and is now ready to go into service.
In a process called Accelerated Bridge Construction, what would have taken more than a year is about to be accomplished in just one weekend.
“The old bridge will be torn down Friday,” says turnpike spokesperson Renee Colburn. “The new bridge will be slid into place Saturday, and everything will be connected Sunday, painted and ready for traffic Monday morning.”
But to pull it off the entire turnpike must close and Colburn says, “The detour is approximately 80 miles.”
Whether you are traveling east or west, the detour will take you north to Interstate 80 to bridge the gap.
“We understand the detour routes that have been laid out to you will add at least another hour, and probably more, to your travel time,” Compton said.
The reason for the extensive detour Colburn says is that it must be able to handle “tractor trailers, wide loads, heavy loads, all types of traffic.”
But if you are in a personal vehicle, you can easily cut the distance in half. Simply use Route 422 which runs from 79 to New Castle or vice versa. In some places, 422 is only a single lane in each direction and it could get crowded, but it will be much shorter.
“There are other detours that people could take,” Colburn said. “Other routes people could take, and we would suggest people take them if they know them.”
The closure goes into effect Friday night and will reopen with the new bridge in operation at 4 a.m. Monday.
For more information, visit the Pa. Turnpike’s website here.