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New Bridge in Punxsutawney, Pa., Ensures Smoother Travels

Tue August 17, 2010 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Rupp

If Punxsutawney Phil can’t see his shadow next year, he can always go stand in the shade of the new Mahoning Creek Bridge.

The Punxsutawney Borough in Pennsylvania will soon be accessible via a smoother and safer bridge over the Mahoning Creek. The current 200-ft. (61 m) bridge which carries U.S. 119 over the creek is being replaced with a 220-ft. (67 m) three-lane, two-span composite steel multi-girder bridge.

The $5.3 million project is located between SR 3017 (Indiana Street) and Church Street in Punxsutawney Borough, Jefferson County. The PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) project includes bridge replacement, approach work and additional paving extending to downtown Punxsutawney. Work began in March 2010 and is anticipated to be complete in October 2010.

Francis J. Palo Inc. of Clarion, Pa., is heading up the operation with bridgework and drainage. Palo has recently been involved in other Jefferson County projects, including Hamilton Bridge, Sandy Lick Point Bridge and Fordham Bridge.

“We’re using phase construction on this project,” said PennDOT Project Manager Richard Polenik. “This basically means that crews will be tearing down half of the bridge while traffic has been diverted into a single lane where temporary girders have been put into place.” This method is used to ensure traffic flow with minimal delays.

Also noteworthy is the structure’s integral abutment design feature.

“This abutment construction involves pre-drilling holes within the abutment “footprint” and placing H-piles in the holes backfilling with sand, then driving the piles to refusal,” said Polenik. “The piles tops are then casted into an abutment cap of concrete prior to girder placement. The advantage of the integral abutment design allows the expansion joint to be located off of the structure and prohibit potential deterioration of substructure elements through leaking joints.”

The work zone begins approximately 1,600 ft. (487.7 m) south of the SR 119/Mahoning Shadow Trail intersection northward to approximately the SR 119/SR 36 intersection. The project will maintain one lane of traffic over the bridge during construction through the use of temporary traffic signals at each end, provided by Dixon Electric Inc. of Claysburg, Pa.

Additional Pennsylvania subcontractors include the Cuddy location of Howard Concrete Pumping Company for placement of the bridge deck; New Enterprise Stone and Lime Inc., based in New Enterprise, for paving; Clark Traffic Control Inc. of Homer City; and Green Acres Contracting, headquartered in Scottdale, for guide rails and seeding.

Herbert F. Darling of Williamsville, N.Y., was contracted for piling installation.

Crews are bringing in 1,500 to 2,000 cu. yds. (1,146.8 to 1,529 cu m) of dirt to build an access road for construction of the bridge. The material will later be taken out and reused in the construction of an access road for a local Little League field, as per the request of the community.

The deck and structure of the bridge call for 1,044 cu. yds. (798.2 cu m) of concrete. Crews will be laying approximately 10,000 sq. yds. (8,361.3 sq m) of bituminous wearing course. The contractors are working 10-hour shifts with no overnights and infrequent weekend work.

On June 22, the northbound lane was completed and traffic was switched over so that work could begin on the southbound side. Motorists are asked to slow downs and exercise caution when traveling through the work zone. Flag crews are directing traffic as needed. CEG

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