$15 million road project finally on track for Route 356 in Allegheny Township | TribLIVE.com
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Mary Ann Thomas
Former township Supervisor John Framel of Allegheny Township's River Forest neighborhood looks over the final plans for widening Route 356 near his home during a public meeting.

The safety improvements can’t happen fast enough for Allegheny Township residents for a $15 million to $20 million project to take out a dangerous, steep bend and improve sight lines of Route 356 near the Freeport Bridge.

Some have been waiting more than 15 years for Thursday evening’s PennDOT meeting.

The public got the details for a two-year project that will widen, realign and recontour a 1.4-mile section of Route 356 from the Freeport Bridge to White Cloud Road.

The accident-prone road will go from two lanes to four lanes after the project, which will soon go out for contract bids.

Construction is expected to start as soon as the fall, said Eric C. Meyer, an engineer with Whitman, Requardt and Associates from Cranberry.

The four lanes will provide a slower right-hand lane to accommodate the abundant large-truck traffic that chugs up the hill, frequently slowing traffic or causing dangerous and illegal passing.

A two-way left-turn lane will be added between Crain Road and Key Lane.

About 2,000 feet of new road will be laid to replace the first steep, sharp bend from the Freeport Bridge into Allegheny Township.

“It’s substandard — it’s too steep, and we are going to widen the bend,” said Troy Pritts, PennDOT’s project manager.

2nd phase to come in 2020

Then another section of Route 356, about 3.5 miles long, will be improved from White Cloud Road to Pleasant Hill Road.

The project, known as the Route 356 Safety Corridor Project, is in the preliminary planning phase, said Liberty Hill, a PennDOT engineer.

For the second Route 356 project, PennDOT will examine the sight lines of all of the intersections, where hills might be scraped to improve safety.

Among other things, both road projects aim to correct sight line problems, which has been a longtime concern of residents and the cause of a number of accidents over the years.

“It’s, ‘One, two, three, hit it!’ when I’m pulling out of White Cloud Road to Route 356,” said Debbie Baustert, who has lived for about 45 years on nearby Brown Road.

Another resident in the audience Thursday night asked if a traffic light can be installed at White Cloud Road and Route 356.

That project is not in the works, according to PennDOT representatives.

John Framel, a former township supervisor who lobbied for the Route 356 project at least a dozen years ago, said, “This is a step in the right direction. This will improve traffic and safety.”

He was glad that the current project will not include lane closures, using occasional flaggers directing traffic.

However, he is waiting for the second road project on Route 356 where a number of hills could be shaved to make for better sight lines.

Current township Supervisor Rennick Steele, who has been pushing for the project for six years, said, “It’s good. We’ve been waiting for this for years,” he said.

Steele credited recent efforts by state Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, and state Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, for getting the project rolling.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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