Bower Hill and Washington roads

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Improvements to the intersection of Bower Hill and Washington roads are in the works.

On Tuesday, Mt. Lebanon Commission voted to award a $341,308.21 contract to low bidder Traffic Systems and Services LLC of Robinson Township for a project that features the addition of a dedicated right-turn lane for vehicles proceeding from Bower Hill onto Washington.

The project’s other facets include installing a new traffic signal system and new sidewalk ramps to comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Covering more than half the cost is a $184,559.60 Automated Red Light Enforcement Transportation Enhancements grant, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The local share, $156,748.61, is available through proceeds from a 2019 bond issue and excess money in the municipal Capital Projects Fund.

A 2019 estimate of construction costs was about $266,000, which would have meant a local match of $81,694.

Traffic engineer Michael Haberman of Gateway Engineers said the initial estimate was based on a concept plan prepared for the ARLE grant application.

“When we did the survey and did the actual design and permitting of it, we had about 25% more sidewalk and curb associated with the project than we had estimated on the concept,” he said during the commission’s discussion session that preceded Tuesday’s voting meeting.

The original plan was to rebuild the ADA ramps where Bower Hill Road would be widened. When the design was submitted to PennDOT, though, the department mandated improvements at all the intersection’s ramps, with the required work adding about $30,000 to the cost, according to Haberman.

He said unit bids for materials such as concrete and asphalt came in higher than the 2019 estimate, which was based on historical data compiled for the municipality. Even though the contract has been awarded, the project has a while to go before work begins.

“The turn lane and the widening of Bower Hill and the sidewalk can’t be done until the signal is in place, and the lead time on signal poles right now is anywhere from six to 10 months,” Haberman said, noting only two manufacturers are approved for supplying the poles in Pennsylvania.

He said ARLE grants are not limited to signal improvements.

“This whole project, which included the addition of the right-turn lane, is what was applied for and what the funds were awarded for,” he said.

The subcontractor performing the road widening and concrete work is Michael Facchiano Contracting Inc. of Baldwin Township. Traffic Systems and Services is installing the signal. Three other bids were received for the project, ranging from $360,711 to $377,120.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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