Interstate 70 in Washington County


Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said Tuesday, that the new bridge over Interstate 70 in Washington County could be open to the public by July. The new bridge is a replacement of the one demolished after an over-height truck crashed into it.

Rachel Duda, assistant district executive for design said, using expedited process and emergency funds, PennDOT hopes to open the new span on the fourth of July.

But til that day comes, nearly 1,800 vehicles that utilized the bridge on an average day will have to sacrifice by taking a four-mile detour through Somerset Township.

On October 18 of this year, a truck smashed on the McIlvaine Road bridge, which crosses I-70 at the Kammerer interchange, scraping the beams critically enough to make PennDOT instantly order it demolished. For about a day, the highway was closed.

Ms. Duda revealed at a town meeting in Somerset Township, the new bridge will comply with the current interstate highway standards by having a 16-foot-6-inch vertical clearance. The old bridge had only 14-foot-9-inch clearance. The new bridgeÂâ€Ã¢„¢s span will be longer and wider and will make room for future expansion of I-70 to six lanes.

PennDot District 12 executive, Joe Szczur, calculated the cost at $4 million to $8 million and added emergency state financing had been obtained for the project. Questioned if the state would pursue Texas-based Coastal Carriers LLC for reimbursement, he answered, "Yes. Absolutely. We are definitely going to proceed with that."

Ms. Duda said a design-build contract will be announced November 4 and bids will be opened on November 23. If all things go well, construction could start in March. Short-term closures of I-70 might be necessary as bridge beams are placed, but the nature and timing of any limitations has not yet been decided.

"This is a major inconvenience. We're not happy about it," said Mr. Szczur, who said the old bridge had not been scheduled for replacement any time in the foreseeable future.

Tony D. Kyle, 49, of Cleveland, Texas, the truck operator identified for gouging the bridge was charged with 14 traffic violations in connection with the accident. Police reported that after the truck driver hit the bridge, he stopped for awhile to check out his vehicle, then drove off. He was later found at the Bridgeville rest stop on I-79.