Independence Excavating Inc. (IX) was read as the low bidder on July 22, 2018, for Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s Morganza Road Upgrade Project. This project is a part of the 12-mile, $700-million expansion of SR 576, “The Southern Beltway”, and is the second phase of the overall project that IX will be performing. The first, Section 55-A1, started in January of 2017 and will be complete by the summer of 2019. Our sections of the project bookend the start and finish of the highway.
The goal of the project is to prepare Morganza Road and adjacent areas for the construction of the SR 576 and I-79 interchange. Currently, Morganza Road dives and winds through the area of the future interchange. Additionally, there is a stop sign controlled intersection with Morgan Road in the middle of the project area. During this project, Morganza Road will be realigned to make safety improvements and allow for the tie-in with the future highway on and off ramps. Additionally, a roundabout intersection will replace the current stop sign controlled intersection to facilitate increased traffic volume. Finally, two bridges will be constructed on Morgan Road. One structure will replace an existing structure over I-79 and one structure will be built over the future mainline of SR 576.
To accomplish the required upgrades to Morganza Road, the project is anticipated to last two years with two interim milestones. IX crews got started in November of 2018 with preliminary clearing and installation of the extensive erosion controls. The erosion control sequence on this project is very detailed and complicated. Seven different temporary sediment basins, three temporary sediment traps and nine compost filter sock traps were installed, along with associated channels and ditches to divert the dirty water. Mass excavation activities have started in earnest over the winter with crews battling frigid temperatures and excessive precipitation. IX crews are working on completing the cut required for the future bridge over SR 576 and the large fill required for the new Morganza Road. These two activities are key to opening the new Morganza Road by November 25, 2019, and achieving one of the interim milestones. The second milestone involves the completion of the bridge over I-79. Work on this structure began on schedule in early February by our subcontractor, Carmen Paliotta Contracting Company.
The structure must be completed by August 23, 2019. Both of these milestones are related to the adjacent and concurrent SB C2-1 project. The C2-1 project is the actual construction of the interchange between the new SR 576 and I-79. Coordination with the adjacent projects and property owners will be crucial to the success of the project moving forward. The National Cemetery of the
Alleghenies is located on Morgan Road in the work area of the project. This cemetery is operated by the Veterans Administration and is designated for former and current members of the armed forces with eight to ten funerals per day. Additionally, there is a major expansion project planned to begin this summer, concurrent with our construction. The cemetery expansion and the interchange project will provide challenges to the IX team during construction of the Morganza Road project. In an attempt to stay ahead of these and other project challenges and potential rocks in the road, a partnering session was held with project stakeholders on February 28, 2019. The PA Turnpike Commission and IX have a history of successful partnering on projects and aim to continue the positive relationship.
Morganza Road is off to a good start, but there is a lot of work to be done over the next year and a half to reach substantial completion by June 19, 2020. Mass excavation is scheduled to continue into the spring. At that point, crew’s focus will shift to storm sewer, waterline, box culvert installation and roadway preparation. Meanwhile, work will continue on both bridge structures to meet the project milestones. The IX team is excited to tackle the project with our partners at the PA Turnpike Commission and look forward to providing another quality product.