Reconstruction and intersection changes on Route 30 are among more than $1.1 billion in long-term highway projects proposed in a 25-year transportation plan for Westmoreland County.
The reconstruction of Route 30 would occur between Leger Road in North Huntingdon and the Irwin borough limits, and improvement is planned for two intersections in Hempfield — at Donohoe and Georges Station roads.
Rachel Duda, PennDOT District 12’s assistant district executive for design, said the state transportation department has yet to begin study of the proposed project at Georges Station Road, which she said Westmoreland planners suggested for consideration.
Without a left-turn signal or lane, traffic headed south on Georges Station often is backed up behind motorists waiting to turn left onto eastbound Route 30.
Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) planners have estimated in the draft version of its SmartMoves Long Range Transportation Plan that it could cost $29.5 million to improve that intersection.
“We need to do a little more work there to figure out what can be done,” said Angela Saunders, transportation planning manager for PennDOT District 12. “Because it is a very tight intersection, there may not be a lot of options. But we’re going to see what we can do.”
The SPC estimates it could cost $92.6 million to reconstruct the North Huntingdon stretch of Route 30 and $30 million to make roadway improvements at the Donohoe Road intersection with Route 30.
Duda said PennDOT is looking into another Hempfield project, at the intersection of Donohoe and Georges Station roads, that might be easier and quicker to achieve than the nearby Georges Station/Route 30 improvement. The crossroads on Donohoe, currently controlled by four-way stop signs, also is subject to traffic backups at peak hours.
Duda said preliminary engineering is underway for three options there: a traffic signal, a roundabout placed directly at the crossroads or a roundabout shifted toward one of the corners.
“That has not been decided yet,” she said. “Whenever we have an intersection project, we always start with a roundabout in mind because they’re most efficient and they’re safer. You never have someone turning left in front of you, so you eliminate angle crashes.”
$1.1 billion eyed for work
The SPC is proposing projects in Westmoreland County with a total value of $1.1 billion as part of its 10-county long-range transportation plan, which looks forward through 2050. Domenic D’Andrea, SPC’s director of transportation planning, said another $1.3 billion in spending can be allocated over those years among projects across PennDOT District 12, which includes Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington and Greene counties.
Since a previous long-range transportation plan was completed in 2019, D’Andrea said, the covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on transportation, along with other sectors of society. But additional federal and state funding has allowed the SPC and PennDOT to advance several Westmoreland projects to the current Transportation Improvement Plan of work scheduled through 2026.
Those include the second and third segments of the three-phase Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project, which is meant to improve alignments and intersections along the Route 981 corridor between Mt. Pleasant and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.
September 2023 is the target date for completing the first project section, currently under construction, between Route 819 and Norvelt in Mt. Pleasant Township. Saunders said bids are expected to be let in October for the northern section of the project, between Pleasant Unity and the airport, and in October 2025 for the middle section, between Norvelt and Pleasant Unity.
All three Laurel Valley project sections represent an investment of more than $200 million, she said.
Other pending projects in Westmoreland include:
- Rehabilitation of the West Newton Bridge that carries Route 136 over the Youghiogheny River, at an estimated cost of $7 million.
- Replacement of the Salina Bridge over the Kiski River and Norfolk Southern Railroad, estimated at $13.3 million.
- Safety improvements on Route 30 between Route 48 in North Versailles, Allegheny County, and Malts Lane in North Huntingdon, with a $22.3 million price tag.
Bridge projects dominate
The West Newton Bridge project is intended to maintain the historic significance of the metal truss span, which was built in 1909. After undergoing previous work in 1957, 1982 and 2010, it has received a poor rating for its superstructure.
Bids for the new bridge rehab project are to be let in 2024.
“The bridge that exists will stay, and we’ll preserve all the historic parts of it,” Duda said, adding that a temporary bridge will be used during construction.
“Building a temporary bridge is something that’s crazy for a bridge that size,” she said. “It took a lot of planning.”
Otherwise, the project would have required a detour “way too long to be able to handle that kind of closure,” Saunders said.
Bidding for the Salina Bridge project is targeted for December, with construction to begin next year. The existing bridge will remain open to traffic as the replacement is constructed next to it.
“There will be some detours at the end when we’re tying into the new alignment,” Saunders said.
The largest chunk of funding available for the long-range transportation plan, 44%, will be devoted to bridge projects, while roadway improvements will account for 32%.
“In the last 10 years, our region has made very good progress in decreasing the number of poor-rated bridges,” D’Andrea said. “They have been cut in half, but we still have work to do.”
He said about 10% of state-owned bridges and 25% of locally owned bridges across the region remain in poor condition.
Additional Westmoreland bridge projects proposed in the long-range transportation plan, with associated cost estimates, include:
- Replacement/rehabilitation of the Walworth Viaduct bridge that carries Route 30 over Route 119: $17.7 million.
- Replacement/rehab of the Avonmore Bridge that carries Route 156 over the Kiski River: $6 million.
- Replacement/rehab of the Larimer Bridge that carries Route 993 over Brush Creek in North Huntingdon: $5.2 million.
- Preservation of the Route 30 bridge over Edna Road in Hempfield: $8.2 million.
- Preservation of the West Leechburg Bridge over the Kiski River: $5 million.
- Improvements to the bridge carrying Route 366 over Route 380 in Murrysville: $17.5 million.
- Rehabilitation of the bridge carrying White Cloud Road over Route 56 in Allegheny Township: $5.1 million.
Additional projects proposed
Other proposed long-term Westmoreland projects:
- Reconstruction of Route 66 from Route 22 north to the county line: $21.6 million.
- Reconfiguration of North Greengate Road in the vicinity of the railroad overpass in Hempfield: $15.5 million.
- Route 130 corridor review and improvements: $10 million.
- Improvements on Route 119 from the vicinity of the former Sony plant to Youngwood and from Youngwood to the Route 30 interchange: $137 million.
- Restoration of Route 119 in the area of the West Tec Drive exit: $4.5 million.
- Pavement preservation on Route 286 between the Allegheny County and Indiana County lines: $13.3 million.
- Preservation of Route 366 from the Allegheny County line to Route 66: $7.2 million.
Public transit addressed
SPC’s plan also calls for investing $408 million in public transit in Westmoreland County through 2050. Some proposed projects include a preventive maintenance program for Westmoreland Transit buses, at a cost of $16.5 million; resurfacing of a 245-space Park & Ride lot at Carpenter Lane and Route 30 in North Huntingdon, $3.7 million; and upgrading the fare collection system, $275,000.
Senior transit planner David Totten said the SPC is working on a regional mobile ticketing study that could be ready for review in August. He said it is examining the feasibility for neighboring authorities, including Westmoreland Transit and Pittsburgh Regional Transit, to “work together, maybe at the back office level, so that there would be interoperability between transit tickets.
“You could really make a trip across the whole region on public transit.”
D’Andrea said the SPC also has identified potential multimodal hub locations across the region, “where multiple transit agencies could come together to transfer folks.”
It’s working on a detailed study of one of those proposed hub sites, near the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, he said.
Comment deadline near
The long range transportation plan is set to be finalized by June 26, with public comments accepted through Friday, June 9.