Pennsylvania Turnpike Remediation - New Baltimore

New Baltimore, Pennsylvania

Independence Excavating started 2015 off with a big victory, winning a contract for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, “America’s first Super-Highway.” This project is located in New Baltimore, approximately one hour east of Pittsburgh. The scope of our work involves remediation of a portion of the mountain that has been sliding into the turnpike since it was originally constructed, a problem dating as far back as the time when the Pennsylvania Railroad occupied the right of way in the 1920s. This portion of mountain has cost the turnpike annual maintenance and headaches over the years; they have executed their contract with us to finally remediate it.

The summary of this project is to move the entire turnpike alignment two miles away from the slide area and into a temporary setting, move the entire volume of soil, including the slide remediation and the new alignment, and then put traffic back to the existing alignment and prepare for the future contracts to widen and improve the run of the existing curves. All of this work will be conducted without impeding the operation of the nearby Allegheny Tunnel, which is vital to the east-west commerce of the turnpike operations.

Several aspects of this project make it a challenging endeavor for our Pittsburgh team:

  1. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve the safety of the travelling public to fix the slide, as well as straighten the windy and most accident prone portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
  2. A total of four million cubic yards of earth needs to be moved.For the IX historians, this would be the largest unclassified excavation contract for the company (sorry Uncle Tony, it out does the Abram Creek project, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport).
  3. 2.4 million cubic yards of the project is the remediation of the slide, which will be completed in cuts of up to 80 feet in the slope of the 1/4 mile hillside, removing the saturated, failing soils and reconstructing the entire hillside.
  4. All of this work will be performed in the overlooking hillside of the notable St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and Retreat Center. The church is a historic, beautiful structure that has been an early monastery, Sunday haven for turnpike travelers and an anchor to the New Baltimore community.
  5. The Independence team has laid out an aggressive schedule that not only remediates the hillside, but has laid out a plan to do it significantly more efficiently than the 2 ½ year schedule that was planned in the contract.

Independence Excavating assembled a great team, both internally and externally, including key area field staff, as well as great support from our partners in Local 66 Operating Engineers and Local 1058 Laborers. We have teamed up with a great group of core subcontractors and suppliers: New Enterprise Stone and Lime Company, paving; Wampum Hardware, blasting; On Call Flagging and PSI Services, traffic control; Bill Miller Equipment, supplying the large-spread excavator and trucking; U-Company, seeding fence and guardrail; Dixon Precast, precast structures; and numerous others. As usual, Independence will support the job, thanks to the heavy shop and field support teams in both Cleveland and Pittsburgh, as well as the field and project engineering staff needed to run this project.

We look forward to working with our new Partners on this project in Stahl Sheaffer Engineering, as well as the Pennsylvania Turnpike Project Staff. Specifically, we are off to a great start with the help of individuals such as Randy Wadding, Mike Marso and Craig Knarr (Stahl Sheaffer) and John Cottle, John Ozimok and Bill Clark of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, among others.

Look for future updates on the progression and success of this exciting opportunity in the eastern Pittsburgh/Central Pennsylvania region.

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