Welcome to the Virtual Public Meeting for the I-70/SR 51 Interchange Project. This virtual public meeting features station-by-station displays of project information. The information displayed in this virtual meeting is summarized in the presentation video at Station 1: Welcome and Presentation.
Check out some of the Virtual Meeting Features:
Thank you for visiting the I-70/SR 51 Interchange Project Virtual Public Meeting Webpage, a product of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Engineering District 12-0 and the Federal Highway Administration.
This virtual meeting will provide an update on the I-70/SR 51 Interchange Project.
This project includes improvements to I-70 and SR 51. Approximately 1.7 miles of I-70 will be reconstructed with a wider 10-foot median, 12-foot travel lanes and wider 12-foot shoulders. These upgrades will make this section of I-70 similar to other reconstructed sections of I-70 to the east and west. A Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) will be constructed to replace the current substandard cloverleaf interchange at I-70/SR 51. The new interchange will include the required acceleration and deceleration lanes for entering and exiting I-70.
One mile of SR 51 will be reconstructed and widened. The reconstruction will extend from south of Ridge Road to north of Concord Lane/Pfile Lane. SR 51 will also be milled and paved from Concord Lane/Pfile Lane to Harper Drive. Finley Road will be relocated behind the GetGo to form a four-way intersection at Route 981 and a left-turn lane will be added from SR 51 to Ridge Road. Please see more detail at Station 4: SR 51 Improvements.
1.7 miles of the I-70 mainline will be improved, including wider medians and shoulders and drainage and stormwater improvements. This project will upgrade the typical section to include 10-foot-wide medians, two 12-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, 12-foot-wide outside shoulders and new concrete pavement. These upgrades will make this section of I-70 similar to other reconstructed sections of I-70 to the east and west.
A Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) will also be constructed to replace the substandard cloverleaf interchange. Traffic on SR 51 will cross (or diverge) to the opposite side of the road at the interchange and then back again. This allows drivers to turn left directly onto the interchange ramps to access I-70 without crossing oncoming traffic. Curbed islands guide traffic through the DDI intersections. Exiting and entering I-70 at the interchange will be safer with up-to-date deceleration and acceleration lanes. This design also fits almost entirely within the existing interchange area, thereby minimizing right-of-way impacts. The new interchange will also include highway lighting. DDIs move traffic more efficiently than a standard diamond interchange and reduces conflict points resulting in reduced crashes.
Approximately 130 DDIs are open to traffic in the United States.
Click the images below to see more details
This video depicts traffic movement through the Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) built at the Interstate 70 interchange with Route 19 (Murtland Avenue) in Washington County. A similar video is currently under development for this project to show how the DDI will work at the I-70 at SR 51 Interchange.
The DDI is a new type of interchange that is growing in popularity, with more than 130 DDIs in service across the nation. The DDI can move traffic more efficiently compared to other interchange types.
Improvements to Route 51 will include widening, replacement of a railroad bridge, an intersection relocation, and other safety improvements.
The existing W&LE Railroad bridge has a short span length, which creates a pinch point on SR 51. It also has a restrictive vertical underclearance and has been hit and damaged by large vehicles traveling under the bridge on SR 51. The new bridge will have a span length roughly double that of the existing bridge, which will support the widening of SR 51. The width of SR 51 pavement under the bridge will increase from the existing 47 feet to 84 feet wide and the vertical clearance under the bridge will increase to the standard 16 feet, six inches. Approximately 1,900 feet of the railroad line will be relocated to accommodate the new bridge alignment. Drainage and stormwater improvements will also be made in this area.
Finley Road will be relocated behind the GetGo station to create a four-way intersection with SR 981, eliminating the existing Finley Road intersection. There will be a new southbound right-turn lane from SR 51 to the relocated Finley Road, and a new access point to GetGo from the relocated Finley Road. This intersection will also be widened to allow larger vehicles to turn more easily.
At Ridge Road, a new 125-foot-long northbound left turn lane will be added on SR 51 and the intersection will be widened to better accommodate turning vehicles. Also, the new railroad bridge just north of the intersection will improve the intersection’s sight distance.
Two new signals will be installed at the interchange ramp intersections and the current Finley Road traffic signal will be eliminated. The signal at the new Finley Road/SR 981 intersection will be replaced, and the signals at the Concord Lane and Harper Drive intersections with SR 51 will be updated. The five traffic signals will be interconnected to provide efficient traffic flow along SR 51. New post-mounted and overhead signing along with updated pavement markings and guiderail will also be installed.
Additional pedestrian and bicycle improvements will be included in the project. Wider shoulders will be built along SR 51. Walkways will be included within the DDI for ramp crossings and crosswalks will be maintained at all existing intersections. A concrete barrier will be added in the median along SR 51 north of the interchange which will eliminate midblock crossings by directing pedestrians to use the crosswalks at the traffic signal at the Concord Lane/Pfile Lane traffic signal to cross SR 51. Click the images below to view larger versions.
This project includes replacement and preservation of several structures. The bridge carrying SR 51 over I-70 will be replaced with dual bridges to accommodate the new, widened SR 51 and I-70. The W&LE Railroad bridge over SR 51 will be replaced and relocated.
The project also includes preservation of the I-70 Smithton High-Level Bridge over the Youghiogheny River. This work will help to extend the bridge’s service life with painting, an epoxy overlay, and other repairs to the bridge joints, concrete and steel. The bridge construction will be phased to limit long-term, single lane closures to one travel direction at a time.
The project will include improvements to several other structures in the area, including the extension of the I-70 culvert west of the interchange and the I-70 culvert east of West McLain Road. The golf course tunnel under I-70 will be extended, and preservation work will occur at the bridge carrying SR 51 over Cedar Creek. The railroad culvert west of SR 51 will also be extended.
Click the photos below to view some of the structures that will be included in this project.
The project received Environmental Clearance in November 2019. Archaeology and noise studies were completed in Preliminary Engineering and Final Design. The noise studies showed that noise abatement is not warranted, feasible or reasonable at this time. The Great Allegheny Passage Trail adjacent to the project will remain open during construction. Some short-term closures may occur with flaggers directing traffic.
A waterways permit and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit were submitted to the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Westmoreland Conservation District, respectively. Issues with waterways and stormwater were also coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the PA Fish & Boat Commission, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services. Part of the stream impacts caused by the project will be mitigated with improvements to Cedar Creek in Cedar Creek Park. The remainder of stream impacts along with wetland impacts will be mitigated at State Game Land #297 in Washington County. Nine new stormwater management basins will be built. Other drainage improvements include new drainage pipes, inlets, ditches and swales.
Although Right-of-Way acquisition is required on 30 parcels, PennDOT and the project design team worked diligently to minimize those impacts. All affected property owners have been contacted by a Right-of-Way representative who will work with them on an individual basis.
Coordination with utilities within the project limits is ongoing and relocations are anticipated to occur both prior to and during construction.
The I-70 improvements are anticipated to be completed in phases while maintaining two-lanes of traffic in each direction. Some single-lane restrictions will occur during overnight hours. The western portion of I-70 will be constructed in the first year to avoid overlapping construction with the proposed Arnold City Interchange Project. The I-70 Smithton High-Level Bridge and approximately 1,000 feet of I-70 roadway work west of the bridge will involve long-term, single lane closures, one lane at a time, to avoid impacting both directions at the same time.
SR 51 improvements will be constructed in two phases – east and west. Single lane through traffic, with turn lanes, will be maintained in both directions. Interchange traffic will be maintained throughout construction, using old and new ramps. Ramp detours are not anticipated. There may be occasional detours on SR 51 work on the W&LE Railroad bridge.
The anticipated* construction phases are as follows:
*The contractor may propose to adjust this construction phasing and PennDOT will evaluate those requests provided they do not violate any specific contract restrictions.
Public outreach began with a Community Context Audit in 2017, followed by the first public meeting in December 2017. This Virtual Plans Display is the second of three public meetings. The third is planned for late 2021 or early 2022 before construction begins. To comment on any of the information presented in the digital display stations on this site, please complete the public comment form below before April 21, 2021.
A Project Advisory Committee (PAC) will meet in the summer of 2021 to collaborate with the Project Team. Working together, they will develop a Construction Communications Partnering Plan to prepare for the timely sharing of changing construction phasing and related traffic information with the community. The community partnering effort will identify local communication channels that can be networked to share timely project information. To be considered for the PAC, please download and complete the PAC Interest Form below before April 21, 2021.
Hard copy informational handouts and comment forms are available at the following locations from April 14 – 21: