Interstate 70 traffic tieups in Rostraver will last a while |
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PennDOT officials said they are continuing to work on a corrective plan after a retaining wall to a bridge on Interstate 70 in Rostraver collapsed last month. Because of the problem, traffic has been limited to one lane in each direction on the eastbound side of the bridge on the four-lane highway. Traffic sometimes backs up in the area, especially during rush hour.

A section of Interstate 70 where a retaining wall collapsed at the base of a bridge last month will continue to be restricted to one-lane travel in each direction for some time, PennDOT officials said.

Officials said they need more time to assess what occurred and come up with a solution for that portion of highway in Rostraver.

“We are continuing to work on a corrective plan,” agency spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said.

“There is no time estimate,” she added.

Workers for Beech Construction of Carnegie were working on the bridge when the retaining wall came free on Oct. 14, resulting in a shutdown of the interstate, PennDOT officials said.

The next morning, travel was restored, with a single lane open in each direction on the eastbound side of the bridge between exits 44 and 43. That restriction remains in place.

Motorists near the lane changes this week said they hope the stretch can return to normal soon, but they understand the work can take time.

“If that’s what it’s takes, then that’s how long it’s going to take,” said Scott McClintock of Rostraver. “I wish it wouldn’t take too long.”

Rick Stoioff of Donora said he felt the same way about Route 22 when work there lasted several years.

“It was such a relief when it was done,” Stoioff said. “Everybody can’t wait until it’s done. I guess it’s the price you pay for prosperity.”

Beech is replacing the bridge as part of an $8.6 million project. The bridge work is the last of a three-phase project started in 2012. Beech had been scheduled to complete the bridge replacement early next year.

PennDOT has marked the stretch with warning signs about the single-lane restrictions and a lowered speed limit of 35 mph.

Despite the signs, some motorists approach the area too quickly, said Ed Staryarsky of Rostraver.

“Most people who live in the area are used to it,” he said. “But people out of state are the ones caught by surprise, I noticed.”

The wall collapsed shortly before rush hour, and motorists experienced travel delays as detours were set up.

McClintock said he hasn’t seen many delays since.

Helen Pulaski of Belle Vernon said she sometimes uses back roads to avoid the lane change.

The road returns to two lanes in each direction after the single-lane crossover.

PennDOT has undertaken a $500 million, multi-phase project to modernize I-70 from the West Virginia line to New Stanton.

The improvements are being driven, in part, by safety concerns.

Construction on a $50 million upgrade to the New Stanton interchange of I-70 is scheduled to start next year and will be completed in 2018.

The New Stanton interchange work is designed to ease traffic congestion and improve vehicle flow, PennDOT officials said.

Stoioff expressed optimism about the interstate work.

“Hopefully … it will be for the better,” he said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or [email protected].

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