Spades sank deep into Pennsylvania earth when local, state and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) officials participated in the official groundbreaking to inaugurate the Route 22 Gas Center Improvement project.
Held late last year at the intersection of Route 22 and the evocatively named S-Curve Road in East Wheatfield Township in Indiana County, the $24.4-million project will update a stretch of Route 22 from its intersection with Route 403 to the Cambria County border and thereby improve drivers’ mobility and safety.
Route 22 links Pittsburgh to central Pennsylvania. Now entering its 10th year, the Gas Center project is part of a $342-million reconstruction job undertaken to improve motorists’ safety. Although much of the corridor now is a controlled access, four-lane highway, PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are undertaking upgrading to deal with safety concerns arising for older parts of the highway due to traffic increasing steadily over the years.
The 9-mi. (14.5 km) stretch involved in this portion of the job stretches through Cambria and Indiana counties. Completion will result in four, 12-ft. (3.6 m) wide lanes of concrete highway with an 18-ft. (5.5 m) wide median lane/divider, plus new left turn lanes at intersections.
Construction costs of approximately $25 million will be paid for by funding provided by the 1997 Revenue Enhancement Act and the Commonwealth.
According to PennDOT, the deepest fill involved in the job will be 36 ft. (11 m) and the deepest cut 31 ft. (9.4 m). Approximately 907,000 cu. yds. (693,451 cu m) — approximately 45,350 truck loads — of excavation will eventually be carried out, while materials to be utilized for the project include:
• 95,750 tons (4,788 truck loads) of subbase,
• 81,000 tons (4,050 truck loads) of bituminous concrete,
• 67,040 cubic yards (7,450 truck loads) of concrete pavement, and
• 4.7 miles of pipes with diameters greater than 18 in.
Prime contractor is the Dick Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.
The project has an anticipated completion date of June 2004. Phase I began in September 2002 and was completed late last year. Work completed during this phase included utility work and grubbing and clearing so that detour road construction and drainage work could be carried out. The latter also involves construction of sediment traps, diversion ditches and installation of both permanent and temporary cross-pipes.
“We used multiple pieces of equipment, mostly Caterpillar 990 front loaders,” said Eric Griffiths, project engineer of the Dick Corporation, “plus 773D off-highway trucks, D350 articulated trucks, 631 scrapers, and D-8 and D-9 bulldozers.”
An award-winning wetland mitigation site covering seven acres at Vintondale in Cambria County has been created as part of the project. Built in cooperation with AMD&ART Inc., based in Johnstown, PA, and awarded a Pennsylvania Partnership for Highway Quality Environmental Award in 2002, the new wetlands are intended to take the place of those affected by construction. These wetlands host more than 10,000 plants from approximately 30 species, and also act as a collection pond for cleansed water originally polluted by acid draining from mines. Filtered water arriving in the wetlands is further filtered before being returned to a local creek. The company is a not-for-profit organization devoted to handling problems caused by this type of environmentally damaging drainage.