CRANBERRY TWP — Work began this week on the $14.7 million Route 228 ramp project that is expected to eliminate cross traffic tie-ups for motorists trying to access Interstate 79.
The project is expected to be done by the end of October 2014, said Deborah Casadei, spokesman for state Department of Transportation, District 10.
The project is being done by the Swank Construction Co. of New Kensington.
“This project has been planned for a number of years and is part of the township's overall plan for traffic in the Route 228 Corridor,” said Jerry Andree, Cranberry manager. “The elimination of the left turns on Route 228 to reach north or south I-79 will result in significantly improved traffic flow at that end of the corridor.”
No impacts to traffic are planned at this time in the early stages of the project. Excavation work is being done off the highway's shoulder.
The project will eliminate two turns from Route 228 to I-79, improving access for motorists. It involves the construction of a new northbound on-ramp, a new southbound loop ramp, and the reconstruction of the southbound off-ramp at the interchange of I-79 and Route 228.
Currently, westbound drivers on Route 228 who want to get onto I-79 in either direction must first turn left across traffic to get onto the interstate's on-ramps.
While they're making those lefts, the through traffic on Route 228 is held back, resulting in a traffic tangle that PennDOT has recognized for years.
But township officials said it will be significantly improved by fall 2014 with the new ramps on the northern side of Route 228 linking it to the interstate. The result is more green light time for through traffic.
To make room for that project, the portion of McElroy Road which now intersects Route 228 will be permanently closed, but not until Cranberry Springs Drive is open.
The new mixed use development adjacent to Cranberry Commons includes a new road, Cranberry Springs Drive, which will connect with Route 228 at its intersection with Cranberry Woods Drive.
Cranberry Springs Drive also will intersect a new extension of the service road which parallels Route 228 in front of Cranberry Commons. As a result, no one on Mars Road will lose highway access at any time during the project.
The ramps project is an integral part of the overall transportation plan for that corridor, Andree said.
In addition to PennDOT's project, the added through lanes on westbound Route 228 and an added third turning lane on Cranberry Woods Drive have already been built at that end of the corridor, although they are barricaded off for use.
“The barricades will be removed when the new northbound ramp to I-79 northbound lane is opened,” Andree said.
Construction will begin in the spring at the eastern end of the corridor for the improvements associated with the new North Catholic High School that is being built.
“The Route 228 corridor will continue to see a series of transportation improvements occur as part of the continuing development of that corridor, which are consistent with its master plan,” Andree said.