Work on Downsville Pike interchange to begin in February

May 16, 1997


Staff Writer

Construction of the Downsville Pike interchange on Interstate 70 will begin next February, but designs for improving the Halfway Boulevard/Interstate 81 interchange might be changed, according to state highway officials.

The Downsville Pike project will be advertised for bid this October, said State Highway Administration engineer John Zanetti.

Zanetti said construction will cost about $10 million and take about 18 months.

The planned interchange played a key role in the Washington County Planning Commission's recommendation to approve a massive rezoning of the Artz farm on Rench Road south of I-70 and is a key to developing the nearby Friendship Technology Park owned by Allegheny Power.

"We realize that that interchange is critical to providing an opportunity for jobs at Friendship Technology Park," said Allegheny Power spokeswoman Midge Teahan.


The park currently houses only Allegheny Power's corporate offices.

The interchange has been controversial because county leaders would prefer that the Halfway Boulevard/Interstate 81 interchange be upgraded first and some residents near the Downsville Pike interchange expressed opposition.

County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said the Halfway Boulevard project has been the county's top priority since 1989. Rohrer said he was worried about gridlock at the interchange, but was hopeful that funding was imminent.

The Downsville Pike interchange will include cloverleaf loops in the northeast and southwest quadrants.

The federal government is footing 80 percent of the bill for the interchange and the state 20 percent.

Meanwhile, $1.4 million in design and engineering work for the Halfway Boulevard interchange is about 30 percent complete but might face a major change, said State Highway Administration project engineer Mike Mertaugh.

Mertaugh said the highway administration was considering changing the design, which includes an eight-lane bridge over the interstate and an enhanced diamond configuration.

Mertaugh said engineers were looking at the feasibility of converting the interchange to a partial cloverleaf, and building a six-lane bridge. The cloverleaf loops would be in the northeast and southwest quadrants, he said.

The cost of the bridge would be less, but the state would have to acquire additional right-of-way, he said.

Mertaugh said design work for the Halfway interchange was scheduled for completion in the summer of 1998. Construction could begin about four months after completion of design work, if funding is approved.

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