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
                  e-mail: jagnello@paturnpike.com

June 15, 1999


The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission today approved a change order for its general contractor that’s intended to conclude the rebuild of Pa. Route 51 in Jefferson Hills Borough, Allegheny County three months early.

The agreement also extends by one month, to July 15, 1999, Dick Corporation’s deadline to reopen Old Clairton Road at its southern tie-in to Route 51 in Large. It has been closed since March 19.

Old Clairton Road is one of five intersections within 2.3 miles of Route 51 that are being reconstructed as part of the $18 million project, which will make the highway safer and more accommodative to traffic that will be moving on and off the new Mon/Fayette Expressway.

Route 51 is being widened by 14 feet to create a center lane for left turns. Other improvements include the construction or reconstruction of 13 structures such as culverts, bridges and walls, work on significant portions of Lewis Run to reduce the incidence of flooding and removal of a hump south of the Blue Flame Restaurant that impedes sight lines.

Traffic was reduced to one lane each direction in early March. On or about November 15, 1999, and continuing through March 1, 2000, Route 51 will reopen to two lanes each direction. The highway again will be reduced to one lane each direction on or about March 1, 2000, through the final phase of the upgrade.

Under terms of the Commission’s revised contract with Dick Corporation, the project is to be "substantially complete" (providing four lanes of unrestricted traffic) as of August 15, 2000. The overall completion date remains November 17, 2000.

The net effect of today’s action is a $625,163 increase in the amount of Dick Corporation’s contract, from the original $17,963,115 as awarded last December 17. Included are funds to accelerate the project to substantial completion by August 15, 2000, as well as schedule recovery costs. The contractor was unable to start Phase I work on March 8, as originally intended, and had to wait until April 28 because utility relocations along Route 51 that had to occur first fell behind schedule.

In addition, flooding of Lewis Run from a severe rainstorm on April 9 forced crews to redo work at several sites. One of the jobs impacted by the flooding was the placement of a box culvert some 600 feet long to carry Old Clairton Road over Lewis Run at the Old Clairton Road intersection on the west side of Route 51. The spring storms also impacted utility relocations in the area because utility company crews had to be called off the relocation work to address service outages.

"The incentives to accelerate this project represent a substantial financial commitment but an investment the commissioners were willing to make on behalf of the motoring public and the communities in this area," said PTC Executive Director John T. Durbin.

"Route 51 is a major north-south artery in Pittsburgh’s South Hills, carrying more than 30,000 vehicles a day, and there is a major hospital and two schools in the immediate area. We don’t want to be in the way out there any longer than absolutely necessary."

Durbin had ongoing discussions about the project with state Senator Timothy F. Murphy (R-37), who was instrumental in the development of the Turnpike Commission’s agreement with Dick Corporation.

"This new schedule speaks well to the responsiveness of the Turnpike Commission and its engineers," said Senator Murphy. "These folks, along with representatives of the general contractor and Trumbull Corporation, the construction manager, worked long and hard to get this accomplished. I greatly appreciate their efforts."

The improvements to Route 51 extend north from the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad crossing near Brickyard Road, where the 17-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway Project extending north from Interstate 70 in Fallowfield Township, Washington County will end. Route 51 will be tapered back to four lanes over a stretch of approximately 800 feet extending north from Coal Valley Road of Route 51.

Construction updates and other information about the Route 51 rebuild are available on the PTC’s Web site at www.paturnpike.com. From the home page, go to Construction/Expansion and then click on Rt. 51 Construction. One of the features on the Rt. 51 Construction pages allows for the viewing of still photos that show traffic conditions on Route 51 from three vantage points. The still photos are updated every 60 seconds.


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