Independence Excavating Inc. (IX) was read as the low bidder on September 9th, 2016 for the Freedom Road Upgrade, Phase A project. Freedom Road was the first opportunity for IX to perform work as a prime contractor in PennDOT District 11 and is a keystone project for the region, making the opportunity all the more significant. The project was identified as a transportation need over 50 years ago and the initial design steps were taken in the 1990’s. Pennsylvania’s Act 89, also known as the Transposition Bill, finally provided the funding to finalize design, purchase right-of-way and let the project. Construction commenced in November 2016 and conclude in the Spring of 2019.
The $19.48 million dollar project was the first phase of an effort to connect the economic and transportation hub of Cranberry with the industries and cities of the Ohio River Valley and SR 0065. The existing roadway link had a 15 ton weight limited road with many dangerous twists, turns and hills. The truck detour route added significant travel time which the new route eliminates. The scope of the project included the total reconstruction of 1,500 feet of SR 0065 with the addition of a new signalized intersection and turning lanes in each direction. 120,000 cubic yards of class 1 excavation and 1,200 SF of geosynthetic reinforced soil slope was required for the widening of the roadway in the project area. The reconstructed section consists of all new 9” concrete pavement with asphalt overlay, mountable curbs, sidewalks, guide rails, curbs and traffic signals. All of the work on SR 0065 was completed during 2017 and the road was re-opened to un-restricted traffic by the contract milestone date. Concurrent to the work on SR 0065, crews worked up the valley on over 8000’ of new roadway back towards the city of Cranberry.
To build the new Freedom Road, significant changes had to be made to the Crows Run Valley. To start the project, fifteen structures were demolished and a large auto parts recycling facility had to be removed from the area. Over 1,500 vehicles were crushed, processed and hauled off site by our subcontractor D & D Auto Salvage. With the valley cleared, work shifted to Crows Run, a large tributary stream of the Ohio River. Nearly 1 mile of the stream required relocation in four separate sections to make way for the new roadway. In the spring of 2017, IX crews built various stream features and installed slope stabilization measures to create the new streambed as naturally as possible. Officials from the Army Corp of Engineers, Department of Environmental Protection, Design Consultant and Conservation District reviewed work progress and all agencies were very pleased with the final product. In addition to the stream relocation work, a total of 4 new structures were built to navigate the valley. A new box culvert and replacement to the Romigh Road Bridge were constructed in 2017. The new Snake Run Bridge and Park Quarry road bridge was completed in 2018. As a final measure to manage Crows Run, 26,000 CY of R-6 limestone rock toe was installed up to the 100 year flood plain elevation to protect the new roadway embankment. Grading, subbase placement and paving followed after all of the stream work and earthwork. One mile of new asphalt roadway was paved and completed prior to the end of paving season. Many unique challenges were tackled in 2017 at Freedom Road from the salvage yard to the stream work. Thanks to the help of our subcontractors and the PennDOT team the project is ahead of schedule and was nearly 75% complete as we headed into winter shutdown.
To facilitate cooperation and understanding between all of the project stakeholders, a partnering meeting was held towards the beginning of the project. The meeting was a very productive way to resolve potential issues and rocks in the road as well as meet all of the designers, consultants, utility contractors, subcontractors and municipal authorities involved. All parties help contribute to the success of the project and project partnering is a great way to encourage the team atmosphere. Partnering at Freedom Road went so well that the project was selected to present as a partnering showcase at the annual Associated Pennsylvania Constructors meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Our major subcontractors were great team players and also contributed to the success of the project, including Brayman Construction, responsible for the bridge structures, Lindy Paving, performing all of the asphalt work, Frank J. Zottola Construction, pouring all concrete pavement, curbs and sidewalks, Green Acres, installing all guardrail and RoadSafe Traffic, providing all maintenance and protection of traffic.