Opening of northbound bridge will end Route 28 detour
Route 28 commuters will get a break from PennDOT tomorrow when the new northbound bridge at Etna opens.
Only one lane of the new two-lane bridge is expected to open by 3 p.m. Tuesday, in time for the afternoon rush hour, but it means no more detour.
The second lane will open when work is finished in mid-to-late November, said PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi.
“We do appreciate the patience of motorists and travelers through the corridor for this entire summer,” Struzzi said. “We know it was a major inconvenience. We think it went pretty well, and we hope people appreciate the improvements.”
Four bridges were rehabilitated or reconstructed as part of the $22.5 million project, including the bridge over Route 8, which had been declared structurally deficient.
The ramp from southbound Route 8 to northbound 28 was rehabilitated, and Route 28 was widened and improved from the Etna interchange to the Highland Park Bridge.
About 60,000 vehicles travel on that stretch of Route 28 each day, Struzzi said.
Outbound traffic has been detoured across the 62nd Street Bridge, north along Butler Street and back across the Highland Park bridge to Route 28 since June 7.
Or drivers have made their way through congested streets in Etna or Sharpsburg.
Struzzi said the official detour route went well, if rocky at first, as motorists adapted.
“We did not have any real significant traffic problems,” Struzzi said. “Traffic on the detour route during the closure this summer flowed very well.
“We have made significant improvements to Route 28 and, when the project is completed, we’ll have two lanes of traffic flowing through there on the new bridge that carries northbound 28 over Route 8.”
Because using Butler Street to get to Route 8 and then Route 28 north was the easier way to go, Etna was strained by the traffic, Borough Manager Mary Ellen Ramage said. With the traffic came noise and dirt.
Ramage said she hopes commuters will remember what they saw as they slowly drove through Etna’s business district.
“The good thing is people got to see what’s in Etna,” she said. “This gives us the opportunity to show off what there is here, and there is a lot.”
But Ramage said the borough is happy the work is ending, for now.
“We’ll be happy we’ll have a little break,” she said. “Then they start up again next year.”
The next phase of work, which begins in the spring, will take a year and address remaining bridges and ramps at the interchange.
That work will require detours and closures.
Details of the construction schedule are still being worked out, Struzzi said.
“We’re not done at the Etna interchange yet,” he said.