Parkway West construction to intensify
Parkway West drivers beware: Closures, detours and narrow lanes are ahead.
PennDOT officials announced details Monday for the next phase of construction on the congested highway. The work began last year as part of a $90.5 million project that involves a general reconstruction of the parkway from Interstate 79 to the Fort Pitt Tunnel; reconstruction of the Rosslyn Farms interchange; and rehabilitation of the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
Drivers will experience around-the-clock closures of the inbound Fort Pitt Tunnel from Friday night to Monday morning the next two weekends. On Feb. 27, crews will narrow the travel lanes on portions of the highway in both directions, similar to last year’s configuration. On March 2, all ramps to and from the Carnegie exits will close.
The project will require six around-the-clock full weekend closures of the parkway between I-79 and the Parkway Center exit — three in each direction — beginning in late April or early May.
PennDOT outlined the schedule at a meeting attended by more than 50 people in the Green Tree borough building. Another meeting is scheduled Thursday in Carnegie.
“It’s going to be fun,” Bill Gracey, 70, of Green Tree, said sarcastically. “But it’s necessary. The weekend closures (of the Parkway West) will really block me in.”
Gracey and other residents were dismayed to learn a sound barrier wall at the Green Tree exit is not in the plans. One is being constructed as part of the work at the Rosslyn Farms exit, which includes adding a lane at the outbound exit.
“We’ve lived with these restrictions for a long time, and we’ve learned to cope with the closures,” said Ronald Gavatorta, 71, of Green Tree. “Our main concern is we want a noise barrier constructed.”
Most of the upcoming lane restrictions and closures stem from the 5-mile reconstruction of the Parkway West from I-79 to the tunnel, which includes replacing the decks of three bridges near the Carnegie interchange. During portions of bridge work this summer, two lanes of traffic in each direction will be rerouted onto both the outbound and inbound sides while the deck on the other side is replaced.
In addition to the six weekend closures for paving, about 70 alternating overnight closures between I-79 and the Parkway Center exit will occur for reconstruction work — 40 outbound and 30 inbound, said Jim Foringer, PennDOT assistant district executive. The closures are necessary for the safety of crews who are doing most of the work at night, he said.
“One worker (last year) received a minor injury. It was a near miss,” Foringer said.
The detour will route drivers from the I-79 interchange through Carnegie to the Parkway Center Mall interchange and vice-versa.
Traffic will be restricted to a single lane on the highway for four weekends this year.
Other restrictions planned this year include:
• Two weekend closures of the Parkway Center entrance ramp and one weekend closure of the exit ramp.
• Two weekend closures of the inbound Banksville interchange and three weekend closures of the Route 51 northbound ramp that leads to the outbound parkway.
• A 30-day closure of the Poplar Street entrance ramp beginning in late April.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.