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PennDOT Tackles Quadruple County Project

Fri December 16, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Rupp


Widening of the northbound lanes took place during Phase 1.
Widening of the northbound lanes took place during Phase 1.
Widening of the northbound lanes took place during Phase 1. Crews used a JLG lift to access the north towers during the bridge jacking operation. Phase 2 began in October 2011 with the deck removal of the southbound lanes. Brayman used a Caterpillar 315B excavator to remove the bridge deck.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is taking on one of its largest project ever, spanning four counties and two districts.

The Freeport Bridge crosses over the Allegheny River at a point where Allegheny, Butler, Armstrong and Westmoreland counties meet. The bridge, also known as the Donald R. Lobaugh Bridge, was constructed in 1965 to take PA Route 356 traffic over the Allegheny River and to connect the Freeport Borough area to Westmoreland County. The bridge and its approaches are a vital link between Butler and Armstrong Counties to the north and west, with Westmoreland County to the south and east.

The project includes the rehabilitation of the Freeport Bridge over the Allegheny River and the reconstruction of the northern bridge approach. Work began in August 2010 and is on track to be completed in November 2013. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is providing oversight for the project.

The $62.9 million project is a joint effort between PennDOT Districts 10-0 and 12-0. The project funds are 80 percent federal and 20 percent state.

The Freeport Bridge rehabilitation will strengthen the existing superstructure over the Allegheny River and provide new northbound and southbound approach structures. Traffic is being maintained across the Freeport Bridge at all times during construction using half-width construction phasing.

In addition, a new roadway design was developed to simplify and improve traffic safety on the northern structure approach in Butler and Armstrong Counties. The current ramp configuration has 13 intersections and three weave areas within a confined project area. The new design reduces the number of intersections and weaves, eliminates all skewed intersections, and reduces travel times. Traffic is being maintained on the northern bridge approach to Freeport Road, Freeport Borough and PA Route 356 to PA Route 28 as well.

The main truss over the Allegheny River is 1,073 ft. (327 m) long, with 1,369 ft. (417.3 m) of approach structures. The northern approach contains a series of ramps, merge points and side street intersections connecting PA Routes 356 and 128; Freeport Road (State Route 2019); Coal Street and Laneville. The total project length is 1.5 mi. (2.4 km).

Prime contractor Brayman Construction Corporation of Saxonburg, Pa., was awarded the contract. The family-owned business was incorporated in 1947 with a staff of two. Over the years, Brayman has grown, diversified and evolved its construction services from a small bridge and concrete company to a large, nationally recognized heavy civil and geotechnical contractor.

“The partnership formed between PennDOT and Brayman Construction has proven invaluable on this project,” said Carl Ray, PennDOT project manager. “We have progress meetings every two weeks, where we invite any subcontractors and community leaders that would like to attend in order to keep the project running on time, and within budget, while attempting to keep the public’s impact at a minimum.”

Geronimo Painting of Lisbon, Ohio, was subcontracted to do all the cleaning and painting associated with the main truss span. Advantage Steel and Construction, headquartered in Saxonburg, Pa., is in charge of all steel erection on the approach spans, and all repair work on the main truss. The concrete paving of approach roadways is being performed by Gulisek Construction LLC of Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

“Other than a few additional steel repairs and a very wet spring last year, the project has been pretty smooth,” said Tom Hesmond, Brayman Construction project manager. “The end product will produce a safer and more user-friendly bridge and intersection.”

PennDOT District 12-0 maintains the entire structure from the northern to the southern abutment, and also oversaw the development of plans for the bridge rehabilitation and the approach structures. The rehabilitation consists of upgrades to the superstructure, new piers and structures for the northern and southern approaches to the main span, and a new reinforced concrete deck.

PennDOT District 10-0 maintains PA Route 356 beginning at the northern bridge abutment and all connecting state roads in Armstrong and Butler Counties. This office engineered a new roadway design to simplify and improve the safety of the northern structure approach.

Federal transportation legislation and the FHWA require state governments to consider intermodal transportation facilities in highway projects where it is practical to accommodate alternative forms of transportation. PennDOT is working with local trail organizers and public officials to incorporate feasible and prudent trail facilities into the project design. This includes a combination sidewalk/bike path onto the rehabilitated Freeport Bridge. The path will help connect the Butler Freeport Community Trail and Rachel Carson Trail in Butler and Armstrong counties to the Wynn and Clara Tredway River Trail and Baker Trail in Westmoreland County. CEG