PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mostly slowly and not so surely, traffic is increasing still under the cloud of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Road construction is slowly coming back too, but it’s a world of unknowns.READ MORE: The Health Benefits Behind De-Cluttering And Spring Cleaning
Will the money really be there?
PennDOT has put the future in its crystal ball to include hundreds of road projects.
District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni says the truck traffic today is larger than before the pandemic started.
But she says, “The actual traffic is probably around 75% I would say. What you’re not seeing though, is the rush hour traffic because a lot of folks aren’t going into offices, so the traffic you see is more spread throughout the day than it was prior to this when folks were focused on the morning and evening rush hour.”
Watch as KDKA’s John Shumway reports:
So if the traffic volumes return and the revenues that are needed come through, here are some of the bigger projects that could plant orange barrels in your way.
Highland Park Bridge and Rt. 28
“The actual Highland Park Bridge intersection interchange where we’re taking Route 28 to two lanes in each direction is actually out to bid right now. And we should be expecting bids in a few weeks on that so you’ll, actually maybe see a little bit of construction will start on that this year. You’ll see the bulk of that next year, the widening, the walls and the like for that interchange.”
That work should wrap up in 2022, with significant upgrands to the Highland Park Bridge to come sometime after the Route 28 work is finished.
McKees Rocks Bridge
This is a major project for PennDOT.
Moon-Sirianni says, “The McKees Rocks Bridge hasn’t been worked on since the mid-80s. It’s the longest bridge in our district and it needs a lot of work done but with a lot of work needing done comes a lot of costs. So we have it broken right now into three phases. The first phase being the sidewalk repairs that we hope to get to in the next couple years. But then, the next phase, after that would be some mid-round steel repairs and then the final phase would be to paint the entire bridge. Hopefully we can do phases two and three together if the money comes along.”
West End Bridge
“The West End Bridge, I think it was 1990 the last time that bridge had some work,” Moon-Sirianni says.
“If you go across, I think you can see that the cables are a little bit rusty some of this feels quite rusty. Obviously, that needs a paint.”
Parkway West — Green TreeREAD MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Long Streak Of Temperatures Below 70º Could End This Week
For some time PennDOT has been planning to make changes to the Parkway West from the Parkway Center entrance ramp to the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
Moon-Sirianni says that work is in the funding pipeline, “The Banksville interchange will be the first one. We’re hoping a couple years out, where we’re going to take an off ramp, halfway down,Green Tree Hill and take the ramp off directly to Route 51. So when you get to the bottom there, you don’t have as many merges and weaves as you do today.”
Parkway West — Robinson Twp.
Further out on the Parkway West in Robinson Township, there is a problem with the Rt 22/30 (Steubenville Pike) Bridge over the Parkway.
Both the Parkway and the overpass are heavily traveled, so Moon-Sirianni knows the work will be disruptive.
“That bridge is lower than the requirement for a bridge over an interstate, and it actually gets hit quite a bit. We’ve had to make multiple repairs to that bridge, in addition there’s failures on the deck. There’s failures underneath and this definitely needs some work, but we don’t want to go put another bridge back there at exactly the same elevation, you know, because of the situation we have with it not being high enough. So we’re looking at what can be done on top or below. Do you lower the Parkway, or do you raise Steubenville Pike? You know, what options do you have there?”
There are two projects ahead for I-79. One is the reconfiguring of the Wexford exit where Route 910 crosses over the Interstate.
Currently, traffic exiting Northbound-79 to 910 is so heavy it can back traffic up onto the mainline of the Interstate.
PennDOT is weighing its options on that project.
Further south, where the Pa. Turnpike is constructing the Southern Expressway and intersecting 79 just south of Bridgeville, the completion of that project will create an issue PennDOT plans to address.
The three-lane section of 79 from the Parkway West extends south of Bridgeville where it goes to two lanes.
Moon-Sirianni says the plan is to make it three lanes all the way to Southpointe.
While PennDOT would like to make significant changes to the Parkway East, Moon-Sirianni says work in that corridor would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and the money simply isn’t there right now.
Instead, they will work with signage to better inform drivers of travel times and when there are issues that they may want to avoid.
All these projects are contingent on the money coming through and Moon-Sirianni says if the federal government comes through with more stimulus funding, some of these projects may go sooner rather than later.
But there’s the other side of that coin where drivers in a post-COVID world continue to work from home and funding sources for roads continue to dwindle.MORE NEWS: Homicide Trial Ordered In Young Amish Woman's Disappearance
If that happens, priorities will be given to roads in the direst need and all bets are off on when any particular project will get the money it needs.