The good news is the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation expects to spend an additional $156 million on road and bridge improvements in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties this construction season.

The bad news is that means drivers will find more orange barrels and traffic restrictions, especially in the eastern suburbs.

At a news conference Thursday, District 11 Executive Jason Zang said the agency expects to begin 58 new projects in the three-county region this year. Spending in the district is expected to increase from $327 million last year to about $483 million this year. Zang said the work will include the improvement or replacement of 32 bridges at a cost of about $290 million and repair work on 646 miles of state roads.

“We’ll have a lot of really critical infrastructure projects moving ahead this year,” Zang said.

A good deal of that extra money will be used to replace the Commercial Street Bridge, the huge structure above Frick Park approaching the inbound side of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

That four-year project, expected to cost $90 million to $100 million, will involve building the 861-foot replacement bridge beside the existing structure, demolishing the current bridge in 2026 and sliding the new one into place.

The innovative project will involve closing the interstate highway for about three weeks in July 2026.

“We’ve been talking about this for a number of years,” Zang said. “We’re very excited to begin this project.”

Most of the work that will involve traffic restrictions on the highway, which carries nearly 100,000 vehicles a day, won’t begin until next year. One aspect that will take place this year will be a 36-day closure of the inbound offramp at the Forest Hills/Wilkinsburg interchange to lower the ramp and provide more space under the Parkway East.

That work must be done because the ramp only has 13 feet, 3 inches of space, lower than the federally required 16 feet, 6 inches that will be needed when traffic will be directed off the highway at that exit during the 2026 closure.

Crews also will have to relocate two sanitary sewer lines, one 24 inches in diameter and the other 48 inches. They also will clear some brush and take steps to protect the trail through Frick Park that passes under the bridge.

Bids for the project are due in April.

The agency also started a $70.2 million project in February to improve 4.5 miles of the Parkway East between the Churchill exit and the Monroeville exit at Route 48. That project, which includes replacing a bridge over Old William Penn Highway next year and upgrading eight other bridges, will kick into high gear Monday with overnight lane restrictions that will continue through November.

PennDOT expected that paving project to begin last year, but it had to be delayed after inspectors found that bridge had more deterioration than expected and should be replaced.

The three-year road project will conclude in fall 2026.

Work also is continuing on a $23.9 million project on Business Route 22, adjacent to the Parkway East. That project will finish later this year, but the remaining work includes closure of the eastbound exit ramp to Monroeville Mall for improvements this summer.
Zang said all of that work around the parkway will be coordinated so that motorists don’t experience several restrictions in the same area.

The agency also has two major safety projects that don’t involve direct improvements to roads themselves.

On Route 28, crews will begin work this summer on an estimated $4 million system to determine if drivers are traveling the wrong direction on the highway. The project will include installing flashing lights that will be activated if drivers enter the highway going the wrong way and notify PennDOT and emergency personnel immediately as well as post messages on overhead signs warning motorists traveling the correct direction that someone is approaching driving the wrong way.

“It doesn’t happen that often, but anytime it does happen it is so severe that we’re trying to prevent it from happening,” said Stephanie Zolnak, district traffic engineer.

That project should be in operation by fall 2025.

The other safety project involves installing message boards, traffic cameras and other equipment on the Parkway West between the Flaugherty Run Road/Moon interchange and the Route 68/Midland interchange in Beaver County. Work started this month on the $5.3 million project that should finish next spring.

Zang said the agency will have to perform two unexpected projects in the next few weeks.

On Interstate 79, crews will grind the surface of the highway where it merges with Interstate 279, where Zang said emergency responders have seen an increase in traffic accidents because the highway has become smooth there.

Another emergency project added to the schedule will involve an 11-day closure of the Sewickley Bridge later this spring. Zang said an expansion dam on the bridge has to be replaced at an estimated cost of $500,000.

The biggest construction project in Beaver County will involve the replacement of the Frankfort Road Bridge over Raccoon Creek in Potter. That will begin in the fall and involve building the new structure and road realignment adjacent to the existing bridge at an estimated cost of $17 million to $19 million, with completion expected in 2027.

In Lawrence County, the most expensive project will involve paving and other improvements on Route 18 in New Castle, between Route 108 and the Boyles Avenue/Jefferson Street intersection. That work will cost $11.5 million to $12.5 million and should be finished by the end of 2025.

Ongoing projects that should conclude in the district this year include Route 28 between Harmarville and Russelton; I-79 between Neville Island and I-279; Route 8 from Shaler to Richland; work on a series of ramps on the Boulevard of the Allies in the Oakland and Uptown neighborhoods of Pittsburgh; and the New Kensington/C.L. Schmitt Bridge over the Allegheny River between East Deer and New Kensington.

Here are the highlights among other new projects and projects that will continue this year:

Allegheny County

New projects:

  • Lebanon Church Road: Work on this $28.2 million project beginning this spring will include widening, milling and paving, concrete patching, drainage improvements, new signals and new guide rail in West Mifflin, Pleasant Hills, Baldwin Borough and South Park Township. Most of the work this year between Ceco Drive in West Mifflin and Broughton Drive in South Park Township will involve utility relocation. Road work next year will require some extended lane closures and a short-term detour at the Route 51 interchange before the project is done in summer 2027.
  • McKnight Road: This $27 million project, which involves paving and other improvements between Venture Street in Pittsburgh and McCandless, began in February and will last until next spring. Motorists can expect lane restrictions throughout the project, a 12-day closure of the Nelson Run Road interchange and weekend closures at Venture Street.
  • Route 51/Clairton Boulevard: PennDOT will award a contract estimated at $15 million to $20 million later this year that includes substantial road improvements and adaptive traffic signals at 24 intersections from Peters Creek Road in Jefferson Hills to Stewart Street in Pittsburgh. Major work that will include single-lane traffic restrictions will begin next year, and the project should be finished in late 2026.
  • Interstate 79: The next project on this highway will involve $15 million of work between the Parkway West Airport/Pittsburgh interchange and the Route 60 Moon Run/Crafton interchange. Improvements will include work on six mainline bridges, six ramps at Route 60 and four ramps at the Parkway West. The work will mostly be done overnight with lane restrictions beginning in April, but there will be extended restrictions for bridge work before the project is finished late next spring.
  • Route 51/Saw Mill Run Boulevard: This highway will be closed for one to two weeks in late summer or early fall for removal of an old railroad bridge near Woodruff Street in Pittsburgh. The project, estimated to cost $2 million to $3 million also will include installing a retaining wall and widening the road by late fall.

Continuing projects:

  • I-79: Work continues on the area known as the “S bend” from Route 51 in Kennedy to the northern end of the Neville Island Bridge in Glenfield. A crossover of one lane of traffic from the northbound side of the highway to the southbound side began earlier this month and will last until late November. The $43.9 million project, which includes paving and bridge improvements, should end in October 2025.
  • McKees Rocks Bridge: This $38.5 million project continues with traffic restrictions and a 60-day closure of the eastbound offramp to Helen Street and the eastbound on-ramp from Helen Street toward Route 65. Work will continue through fall 2025.

Beaver County

New projects

  • Rochester-Monaca Bridge: Preparation work begins Monday for this $6.7 million bridge project on Route 18 that joins Atlantic Avenue in Monaca with Pleasant Street in Rochester. The bridge will be closed for 67 days from June to August, but bicycle and pedestrian access will be maintained.
  • Golf Course Road: This project in Hopewell, Center and Aliquippa will include resurfacing, drainage improvements and guide rail updates. The $3.5 million to $4.5 million project is expected to start in June and finish next spring.

Continuing projects

  • Route 65: Work should finish this summer on this 16-month, $6.2 million project to improve the highway between Route 18 (Third Avenue) in New Brighton and Route 588 (Bennetts Run Road) in North Sewickley. Work will resume in June and involve full closure of the road between Foster Road/Bologne Valley Road and Jersey Drive while crews replace a structure over Bennetts Run.
  • Freedom Road: The $21.7 million project to widen the road, install a roundabout and add turning lanes between Park Quarry Road and Route 989 should finish in the fall after three years.

Lawrence County

New projects

  • Route 18: The highway will be upgraded in New Castle from Mount Jackson Road to the Boyles Avenue/Jefferson Street intersection through this project that begins in May and is estimated to cost $11.5 million to $12.5 million. There will be a three-week closure later this year for full-depth reconstruction from the intersection of North Liberty Avenue and Mahoning Avenue to the New Castle industrial railroad crossing. Work will continue until December 2025.
  • Interstate 376: This $8.34 million project began in February and will involve paving and bridge preservation on I-376 and Route 422 in Union between Route 224/Poland Ohio/State Street and just west of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. There will be a 25-day single-lane restriction on Route 422 and a 68-day closure of the bridge that carries Washington Street over the highway before the project is finished this fall.

Continuing projects

  • Route 65: Work should finish this fall on a two-year, $7.6 million project to improve the highway and nearby roads from Old Princeton Road in Shenango and South Croton Avenue in New Castle. Work this year will involve single-lane restrictions throughout the project area this year.
  • I-79: Single-lane restrictions are currently underway from the Butler County line to Mercer County. The $11.6 million project should be done in September.

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at