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Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

PA Route 28, East Ohio Street Corridor - Major Enhancements for a Gateway

17 Mar 2015 8:45 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

Article by ASCE-PGH Awards Committee

31st St interchange w/ tight urban single point configuration and complexity in local tie-in pointsThrough careful planning, stakeholder coordination, and innovative design and construction techniques, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) upgrade of PA Route 28 (East Ohio Street) between Millvale and Chestnut Street in Pittsburgh is complete. With much help from the Federal Highway Administration, the City of Pittsburgh, the Borough of Millvale and the many stakeholders involved, PennDOT has invested $181 million toward making this section of PA Route 28 a top-notch transportation system.

View of PA 28 towards downtown at completion of 31st St interchangeThe Route 28 corridor has been a valuable asset for travelers in the Pittsburgh community since the early 1800s. At one time, this major gateway supported a wooden plank road, a canal, a Belgian block street, streetcar traffic, railroads, trails and the paved state road. Through the combination of five construction contracts, the much needed capacity, safety and geometric improvements have been provided.

PA Route 28 for many years has been a unique and major arterial gateway into the City of Pittsburgh while also serving as the local access for the smaller communities it traverses through. This particular section of PA Route 28 is constrained by the steep Troy Hill slope, Norfolk Southern and CSX railroad tracks, and the Allegheny River, with many other demanding features that may have led to this segment as the last to be upgraded.

Innovative Florida-T design at 40th St, allowing continuous traffic flow along PA Route 28The project grade-separated this section of PA Route 28, providing the long-awaited limited access link between northeast Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh International Airport. Innovative techniques were incorporated through the design of a tight single point urban interchange at 31st Street and construction of a Florida-T interchange at 40th Street. Shifting of the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks along this project corridor was necessary to implement the PA Route 28 roadway improvements. The vertical clearance over the railroad at the 31st Street Bridge overpass was improved from 19 feet to 23 feet, allowing the transport of double-stacked cargo containers and improving the efficiency of freight rail transport through the project area.


PennDOT, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) and the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) partnered on this project to perform stream removal from the local sanitary system. As a result, ALCOSAN was able to completely close two combined sewer overflow diversions. This, along with the considerable steps taken toward improving the safety of not only motorists  but also pedestrians and bicyclists along Route 28’s arterial urban context corridor, were the major factors leading toward this project being sustainable.

The firms assisting PennDOT with successfully delivering this challenging project are: Michael Baker International, with assistance from The Markosky Engineering Group, Pittsburgh Engineering Consultants, Monaloh Basin Engineers, Cardno, and Ackenheil Engineers providing design and construction consultation services; CDR Maguire, with assistance from SAI Consulting Engineers, performing the construction management and construction inspection; and Power Contracting, Brayman Construction Corporation, Trumbull Corporation, and Carmen Paliotta Contracting as the lead contractors.

PennDOT orchestrated a project that positively impacts peoples’ lives by not only providing a safer, more efficient and more sustainable transportation system, but also by improving multimodal connectivity, as well as appropriately addressing aesthetics. This project’s understanding of the communities’ needs and respect of the past, present and future desires makes a difference as society progresses towards a prosperous future.

Innovative Florida-T design at 40th St, allowing continuous traffic flow along PA Route 28

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