Work starts on Ohiopyle project
Work has started on a project to make it safer for the hundreds of thousands of visitors — bicyclists, hikers and boaters — who visit the 20,500-acre Ohiopyle State Park each year and cross Route 381 in Ohiopyle to see the falls and venture to the Youghiogheny River.
Plum Contracting Inc. of Salem Township has been cutting down trees at the park in preparation for the $12.4 million Ohiopyle Intermodal Project, said Valerie Petersen, a spokeswoman at PennDOT’s Uniontown office.
State, local and regional officials on Tuesday held a ceremonial groundbreaking in Ohiopyle for the project, which will involve several safety measures:
• Widening Route 381 towards the Youghiogheny River/Ohiopyle State Park visitor’s area so that sidewalks can be installed on both sides of the highway.
• Improved parking and pedestrian access on Route 381.
• Reconstructing the existing parking area to the south of Ohiopyle Borough and east of Route 381 to increase parking spaces.
• Constructing a new pedestrian underpass from the redesigned parking area to the park visitor’s center area.
• Replacing a superstructure on the existing Route 381 bridge over the Youghiogheny River.
Sugarloaf Road will be relocated slightly to the north so it parallels Negley Road, which will no longer intersect Route 381. That road will be retained as a parking area/staging area for use by the businesses that abut Negley Road.
“Transportation assets should meet community needs, and this is a great example of how we can support local economies and improve safety,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said.
The project is scheduled to be complete by Memorial Day 2020. To ensure the work does not interrupt the tourist business, Petersen said the contractor will not work on the job between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Ohiopyle is the state’s largest park and among the nation’s most heavily visited state parks, with about 1.5 million visitors each year.
Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said that DCNR had worked with PennDOT in the dedication of its Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center in June 2015. A $4 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration helped pave the way for much of that project, undertaken in close cooperation with PennDOT’s Byways and Recreational Trails Section.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or [email protected]