Road opening bittersweet for Penn Township businesses |

Road opening bittersweet for Penn Township businesses

Pati Livengood turned to social media and her website to spread the good news that the Harrison City-Export Road in Penn Township had reopened.

But the harm done to her business, Photography by Pati, and others in the Harrison City area will linger for months after Wednesday evening’s reopening, Livengood said.

“‘Yes, we’re open; we’re offering a lot of different specials,’” she wrote on websites.

“Just from one day, we’re having a lot of response,” she said Thursday. “But the damage is done. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for people to drive by and realize we’re here.”

She estimated she lost about 40 percent of her business during the road closure and related detours.

The Westmoreland County-owned road was shut down in January so replacement work could be done on a bridge about 75 yards from the Harrison City-Export Road intersection with Route 130.

The bridge and road had been scheduled to reopen Sept. 18, but that was delayed. Utility relocation and other work for the project started in August 2013.

Along with replacing the bridge, workers added a turning lane and realigned roads near the bridge as part of a $2.2 million project.

“It’s about time,” said Paul Wersing, chairman of the township commissioners. “I’m glad it’s open before the holidays. Hopefully our businesses can make up some of their losses.”

Bob Watkins, owner of PC PitStop in Harrison City, estimated he lost about 40 percent of his business during the shutdown.

“I’m sure no one’s happy for all the losses. … But we’re happy it’s open,” he said.

The new road is “really nice,” he said. “It’s huge. It should help (business) in the future.”

His business survived, thanks to repeat customers, Watkins said.

“The county is very happy that the Harrison City-Export Road has been reopened to traffic,” county engineer Henry Fitz said. “We hope that the businesses and residents can get back to their normal activities and routines. We appreciate their patience and understand their frustrations during this project.”

Fitz said improved safety and traffic flow, especially at the Route 130 intersection, were two reasons for the project.

Landscaping, installation of overhead signs and other work remain to be done, Wersing said.

Wersing said he was told lane restrictions might be needed in the future, but no road closure would be necessary.

“The additional work to be completed on the project might involve minor traffic restrictions that will be handled with flagmen when necessary,” Fitz said.

Work on another project that has caused consternation and tie-ups on Route 30 near Jeannette is nearing completion, PennDOT officials said Thursday.

Single-lane restrictions that were put in place between Possum Hollow Road and Toll Road 66 were lifted Wednesday, they said.

Installing signs, finishing a ramp and some other minor work remain to be completed, PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said.

To finish that work, some random single-lane closures might be necessary, she said.

In September, PennDOT approved changes to the contractor’s work hours to speed completion of the project.

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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