Travails ahead on Interstate 79 in Butler County

Written by Jon Schmitz on .


Two seasons of traffic restrictions are in store for drivers on Interstate 79 in Butler County, starting today. A $14 million project will improve the interchange at Exit 99, Route 422 in Muddycreek and includes replacement of two bridges and ramp and roadway reconstruction. The work that begins today will be construction of crossovers through the median. Short-term lane restrictions are possible from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through early March while the crossovers are built. Starting next month, northbound traffic will cross to the southbound side, with single-lane traffic in both directions. That will allow replacement of the northbound bridge. The southbound bridge will be replaced next season, with the overall project scheduled for completion in fall 2014.

Footnote: Lane restrictions during bridge work a few miles south of this work zone caused major tie-ups, even on weekends, last year. Travelers on this stretch of highway will want to plan carefully.

Footnote 2: Traveling northbound on I-79 through Butler County over the weekend, I saw several stretches of severely deterioriated pavement, with dozens of patches of the top asphalt layer gone. Most of these were in the center along the seam between the passing and travel lanes and evasive action was fairly easy, but there’s obviously a quality-control issue here with the pavement. PennDOT District 10 spokeswoman Deborah Casadei said crews are working on repairs using more durable material than the typical winter cold patch, and hope to have things patched up by the end of the month.

Work to set new bridge beams for the 31st Street/Route 28 interchange continues through Saturday, which will cause temporary traffic stoppages of outbound traffic of up to 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Inbound traffic will not be affected.

Utility work will cause lane clousres on Greensburg Pike in North Versailles starting next Monday and continuing through April 1, the Allegheny County Public Works Department announced. Flaggers will be on the scene from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. This is part of the ongoing bridge replacement project. Pedestrian note: sidewalks on the pike will be closed from Kline Avenue to Penn and Airbrake avenues in Turtle Creek, including the bridge sidewalks, until the project is completed this fall.

Periodic lane closures have begun on Reedsdale Street under Route 65 approaching the Fort Duquesne Bridge during inspection of an overhead ramp, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Tuesday.

Other odds and ends:

An impressive showing by the Port Authority after Sunday night’s Penguins game. Not only extra service on the T, but frequent announcements in the stations about when trains would arrive. A far cry from the indifference shown to event attendees in the past.

Among the Presidents’ Day closures: PennDOT driver license and photo centers, this coming Saturday and Monday. Many services are available 24/7 at

Gov. Tom Corbett’s transportation proposal would put an end to those little registration stickers that are pasted on license plates. That would end the need to mail registration cards, which means drivers could register and print out the documents online. Secretary Barry Schoch said police don’t need to see the stickers to know if you’re up to date; their onboard computers have that information. Change-averse drivers would still be able to register by mail, he said. As previously reported, the governor’s plan would switch from annual to biennial registrations. You’d only have to tend to this chore every two years, paying $72 for a two-year registration instead of $36 for one year. Driver’s license renewals would be stretched out from the current four years to six years, also with no change to the pricing level.

Pennsylvania leadership of the American Society of Civil Engineers released this statement today in support of the governor's plan:

Governor Corbett’s proposed transportation plan is vital for Pennsylvania’s future. We must invest in our infrastructure now to not only repair our deteriorating roads and bridges, but build the foundation for Pennsylvania families and businesses to thrive in a global economy.

Pennsylvania’s number of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges still rates as the worst in the United States, and the poor ride quality of our highways and capacity-related congestion is costing the average Pennsylvania motorist hundreds of dollars each year in the form of additional maintenance and fuel costs. Our state’s current infrastructure is simply not meeting the needs of Pennsylvanians, and it is hurting our quality of life as well as our wallets.

ASCE appreciates the Governor’s transportation funding proposal as a positive step towards meeting PA’s transportation infrastructure needs.  It will serve to maintain the safety of the traveling public, create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs, make Pennsylvania the state of choice for expanding businesses, and ensure the overall quality of life of our children and future generations.

Mr. Corbett has sent PennDOT crews and equipment to Connecticut to help its residents dig out from the weekend blizzard.

"Our neighbors in Connecticut are struggling with closed roads, power outages and dwindling supplies of perishable goods -- when the call came in for help, we quickly responded,” Mr. Corbett said in a release. “I’m proud of our employees who will be working long hours and spending time away from their own families to help others in need.”

PennDOT crews from Somerset and Tioga counties left Saturday and crews from Montour and Columbia counties left Sunday. The state sent three massive snow blowers, three tractor trailers (to haul the snow blowers), three crew cab trucks, several equipment operators, several foremen and a mechanic. Those crews are working to clear roads in parts of Hartford, Farmington and Meriden, Conn. The crews expect to return later this week.

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