PennDOT was recently announced as the recipient of a regional America's Transportation Award from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
The department was recognized for its efforts to replace the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh, and for the planning and construction of specialized high-traffic intersections in Westmoreland County. Awards were won in the categories of "Operations Excellence" and "Best Use of Technology," respectively.
In January 2022, Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed, severing an important connection between Pittsburgh neighborhoods and adjacent Edgewood and Wilkinsburg communities, and disrupting public transit, emergency and school travel. The team of PennDOT, the City of Pittsburgh and FHWA along with their talented contractors and consultants utilized emergency procedures and expedited design and construction processes to open to traffic in just 11 months rather than the potentially four-to-five-year project, avoiding years of detours.
"The Fern Hollow replacement represents some of the most impressive and demanding work the department has done," said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. "I am proud to have AASHTO recognize the excellence of our team and its efforts in the community."
In addition, the $25.3 million replacement bridge incorporated measures to improve bike and pedestrian accessibility with the inclusion of a shared use path and sidewalk access. The new accessibility measures increased dedicated pedestrian and bicycle width by 50% compared to the previous bridge.
In Westmoreland County, increasing traffic volumes and deficiencies in roadway design at the I-70 Yukon and Madison interchanges impeded safe travel. The redesign of the interchanges included a $93 million reconstruction project of nearly four miles of roadway on I-70 to widen the median and shoulders, rebuilding of the interchanges at Exits 53 and 54 by lengthening the ramp acceleration and deceleration lanes and providing an eastbound auxiliary lane between the two interchanges. In addition, the project included replacement of four I-70 bridges, one I-70 buried culvert, a new proposed culvert and maintenance on one Route 3010 structure.
"Data collection and collaboration with local stakeholders to determine where the need is greatest is imperative to good design," said Carroll. "In Westmoreland County, we were able to create a safer system of interchanges and lanes to support the area's growing communities and commerce."
The new interchanges provide improved access to Commerce Crossing at Westmoreland and other nearby businesses and residences, and were designed to handle higher traffic volumes, including the substantial flow of truck traffic on the roadway, which prepares the region for future growth. The interchange project is part of the ongoing I-70 Interstate modernization initiative.
Subscribe to statewide PennDOT news and traffic alerts at www.penndot.gov/news or choose a region under "Regional Offices." Information about the state's infrastructure and results the department is delivering for Pennsylvanians can be found at www.penndot.gov/results. For a map of current and upcoming projects from the PennDOT Twelve-Year Plan, please visit the Twelve-Year Plan website.
To learn more about projects on the I-70 corridor in District 11, please visit www.I-70projects.com.