Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information

C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E   


Contact:   Joe Agnello, (724) 755-5262, (724) 755-5142 fax   

December 18, 1998


The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announces its selection of Dick Corporation of Jefferson Borough, Allegheny County as the general contractor for Construction Section 52M of the Mon/Fayette Expressway. The project involves an extensive renovation of 2.3 miles of Pa. Route 51 in Jefferson that is scheduled to span the next two construction seasons. Dick Corporation was the lowest of four bidders at $17,963,115. Work is expected to begin in February 1999 with the installation of new drainage lines under the roadway. The deadline for completion is November 17, 2000.

Route 51 is to be widened by 14 to 16 feet to create a center lane for left turns and provide wider travel lanes. The purpose is to make the highway more accommodative to traffic that will be moving on and off the new Mon/Fayette Expressway. The improvements to Route 51 will extend north from the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad tracks in the community of Large, where the 17-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway Project extending north from Interstate 70 in Fallowfield Township, Washington County will terminate. Route 51 will taper back to four lanes over a stretch of approximately 800 feet extending north from Coal Valley Road.

In the southern half of Construction Section 52M, the widening will occur on the west side of Route 51. Work will shift to the east side of Route 51 just south of Large Fire Hall and continue on the east side through the northern end of the project area.

Five intersections are to be reconstructed. Moving south to north, they are:

* Peters Creek Road and the Dick Corporation access road. This will be made a four-way ("plus sign") intersection served by one traffic signal. There now are two signals, one for Peters Creek Road and another for the Dick Corporation road, because the roads don’t abut Route 51 directly across from each other.

* Old Clairton Road. A new traffic signal will serve another new four-way intersection with Old Clairton Road and a private drive that will provide access to two properties on the east side of Route 51. This intersection also will serve as the point of access onto Route 51 from Lewis Run Road. A new box culvert over 600 feet long will take Lewis Run under Old Clairton Road. It will have no weight limit.

* Wray Large Road, which will be extended to Route 51 and a stop-sign intersection.

* Lewis Run Road. A new stop-sign intersection with Lewis Run Road will be created just south of the Star Lite Motel. East of Route 51, Lewis Run Road will be discontinued as a public right-of-way to the south.

* Coal Valley Road, which provides access to Jefferson Hospital. Coal Valley Road will be widened to provide for a left-turn lane for vehicles accessing Route 51 South. A new traffic signal will be installed.

Altogether, 13 different structures (box culverts, bridges, walls, etc.) will be installed new or reconstructed. Route 51 will be rebuilt for approximately 800 feet to remove a vertical hump that impedes sight lines just south of the Blue Flame Restaurant. Significant portions of Lewis Run will be widened and stabilized and/or walled off from Route 51 to reduce the incidence of flooding.

Two key areas are between the Peters Creek Road and Old Clairton Road intersections, where a wall about 300 feet long will be erected on the west side of Route 51; and just north of the Blue Flame Restaurant, where Practice Tee Road will be elevated on a new bridge. In this area, channel improvements to Lewis Run will be designed to contain a 25-year storm event. At present, it is not uncommon for Lewis Run to flood two to three times a year in the area of the Blue Flame.

Lewis Run Road will be made a cul-de-sac at two locations – west of Route 51 at a point diagonally across from Three Rivers Bank and east of Route 51 across from Sycamore Street.

Under requirements of the state Department of Transportation, all four lanes of Route 51 are to be open from mid-November through mid-March. Traffic will be restricted to one lane each direction from mid-March through mid-November.

The Turnpike’s contract with Dick Corporation includes a provision that a tow truck be available during peak travel periods to quickly clear Route 51 of any breakdowns. In addition, the tow truck operator is to have a cellular phone available to motorists.

Alerting motorists about traffic conditions on Route 51 and possible alternative routes that could be used when congestion is heaviest will be two primary goals of an extensive public information campaign that will remain in effect until the project is completed. The Turnpike Commission will be releasing more information about the project’s effects on Route 51 traffic when crews are ready to begin their work.

Today’s action boosts to more than $267 million the value of Mon/Fayette Expressway construction contracts awarded by the Turnpike Commission since October 1994. The sum includes nine contracts totaling $177.6 million for the 17-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway Project between I-70 and Route 51 and 10 contracts totaling $89.6 million for the Pennsylvania leg of the 12-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway Mason Dixon Link that will extend south from the Uniontown area to Interstate 68 near Morgantown, W.Va.
The expressway between I-70 and Route 51 is targeted for completion in late 2001. The Pennsylvania portion of the Mason Dixon Link is scheduled for completion in late 1999.

Dick Corporation also is the general contractor for Mon/Fayette Expressway Construction Section 52D, which includes mainline bridges over Bogdan Road and Taylor’s Run in Carroll Township, Washington County. The contract for Construction Section 52D was awarded on July 15, 1997, and totals $28.9 million.

Companies headquartered in western Pennsylvania have won some $240 million of the $267.2 million worth of Mon/Fayette Expressway construction contracts awarded to date.


 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649