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Updated 7 hours ago
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's first projects to widen the turnpike in Plum and Monroeville will impact 23 homeowner properties, the commission said.
But of the 23 properties affected, 11 homeowners will be forced to relocate.
“That's only for these projects; there's a possibility of further impacts as the projects continue,” said John Romano, right of way administrator for the turnpike commission.
The turnpike commission held a meeting Thursday at Plum High School where it described its first four projects related to the widening.
These projects are expected to take four years. No timetable has been set for the turnpike widening.
The first work involves replacing bridges on Unity-Trestle Road in Plum, Saltsburg Road in Plum and Center Road in Monroeville. Those three bridges on local roads cross over the turnpike.
They need to be replaced because they won't be long enough after the turnpike is widened.
The first bridge replacement — the Saltsburg Road bridge — would begin as early as next year.
The turnpike commission will also lower a portion of Hulton Road that goes beneath the turnpike by 2.5 feet. That portion is in Plum near the Penn Hills border.
The turnpike commission estimated that the projects would cost anywhere between $27 million and $32 million.
Romano said that construction of the new bridges will take place while the existing bridges are still in use. That will cut down on the time motorists will need to be detoured.
He said detours would be needed for a week or two as crews connect the new bridge to the roadway.
After traffic is shifted to the new span, the old bridge will be torn down.
“A lot of the traffic is going to be able to take place without as much impact,” he said.
For the lowering of Hulton Road, traffic would be detoured between one and two months.
Most residents who attended the meeting were concerned about potential alternative routes to travel once the work widening the turnpike starts, said Romano.
“People are eager to see what's going on and interested to see how it will affect their daily commute,” Romano said. “Unfortunately, the design for the main line isn't done yet.”
Eric Albert's home on Allegheny Avenue in Plum is 500 feet from the Unity-Trestle bridge. He is worried about property values, noise and “impact on everyday life” that the construction will mean for families in the area.
“There are aspects of construction where they will have to shut down the turnpike and work at night. For some period of time we'll deal with construction noise at night,” Albert said.
He has mixed emotions about the project and hopes that the turnpike commission will conduct a sound study to see if his area qualifies for the construction of a sound wall once the project is finished.
“(The turnpike commission) is obviously gearing up for more capacity,” Albert said. “I don't feel great about the interruption, but that's a part of progress, I guess.”
Maps were on display at stations throughout the high school's cafeteria for public viewing as people walked around and spoke with representatives from the commission, and consulting firms working on the project.
Samson X Horne is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at 412-871-2325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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