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PennDOT’s Route 202 Reconstruction
Hard Hat News

April 24, 2002

For the past three years one of the busiest roadways in Pennsylvania has been undergoing major reconstruction work. U.S. Route 202, one of the vital links between Philadelphia and its suburbs, is being widened and improved in four construction sections.

Now in its fourth year, the current focus is on Route 202’s interchanges with Interstate 76 and U.S. Route 422 and reconstruction of two railroad bridges – as part of two construction projects known as sections 404 and 405. The total project is a five-year, $280 million project to widen and improve five miles of Route 202 in Tredyffrin Twp., Chester County, and Upper Merion Twp., Montgomery County.

construction image
Brenda Lange, Hard Hat News

General contractor on the $104.8 million contract for Section 404 is Allan A. Myers, L.P. of Worcester, PA. Section 404 includes widening Route 202 between Old Eagle School Road and Gulph Road, replacing two bridges over the highway, building new ramps at the interchanges with 422 and 76 and installing Intelligent Transportation Systems. This ITS equipment is being installed throughout the project, on routes 202 and 422, I-76, and I-476. The system consists of 46 closed circuit television cameras, 15 permanent and portable variable message signs and microwave detectors to improve incident detection.

Myers also holds the $44.4 million contract for Section 405, which includes widening I-76, building new ramps at the Route 202/I-76 interchange and replacing the Norfolk Southern bridges over I-76 and South Gulph Road and building a multi-use trail bridge over I-76.

Project supervisor for Section 404 is Tom Kinsman. The demolition of the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge over I-76 and construction of a new one is managed by Section 405 superintendent, Gerard Maurer. The rail line continues to be operational while work is in progress.

“This section is one of the more critical of the project,” says Albert Alberts, P.E., of Urban Engineers, Inc., project manager for the job. “It takes so long to complete and is quite complex.”

Myers uses a variety of equipment to construct the new railroad bridges. A Caterpillar 330 excavator with a 60-inch bucket digs out the remainder of the existing abutment, and excavates for a new pier. Meanwhile a 100-ton Manitowoc 222 crane is used for pile driving and bridgework. An American Truck 7150 crane and a Grove 7000 hydraulic crane are used for pile driving and will assist in the concrete pour for the new abutment.

In addition, Layne Geoconstruction out of Ruther Glen, Virginia, has a Puntel PX 1200 drill on site for pumping grout into the ground to stabilize the bedrock under the new bridge abutment. This standard drill rig is set up for a dual purpose: to drill the hole and install a casing so a concrete pump can insert the grout. Layne is also responsible for compaction grouting on the Gulph Road bridge where they had a second drill, a Tecniwell 1400 Raptor, for the same purpose as the Puntel. These two Italian-made drills both accomplish two ends - to drill and grout, according to Tim Meyers, project manager for Layne.

Work on sections 404 and 405 is expected to be completed by the end of 2003.

The project has created a traffic nightmare for drivers making the daily commute into or out of the city along this route. Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation District Administrator Andrew Warren acknowledges that the construction on this vital traffic artery has been difficult because of lane closures and traffic pattern shifts. In addition, nighttime and weekend lane closures have been necessary for the railroad bridge demolition and construction of three new bridges.

The department has tried to educate motorists about the impending construction delays through a massive advertising campaign. In addition, PennDOT has provided transportation alternatives to commuters including Route 202 park and ride facilities and expanded train and bus service along this corridor.

According to Alberts the impact this construction has had on traffic is enormous.

“This area normally handles 100,000 cars a day. It’s a major route around Philadelphia – one of the most heavily traveled areas in the state. Even the alternate routes are under construction. We’ve advised people to allow for an additional 15 to 20 minutes travel time.”

The original U.S. 202 Expressway was built in the 1960s, when population in the five-county Philadelphia region was many times less than it is today. The interchanges at I-76 and Route 422 combined now handle about 180,000 cars each day.

“Before this project began, there were many places traffic had to converge from Route 202 to I-76,” says Alberts. “This work will construct new bridges and relocate ramps to eliminate all unsafe merging conditions that led to traffic backups and collisions.”

The Route 202 Improvement Project was financed with 80 percent federal and 20 percent state funds. In addition, Tredyffrin Twp. contributed $6 million to the project and Upper Merion Twp. is paying 20 percent of the cost to replace the railroad bridge over South Gulph Road and all of the cost for associated improvements to that roadway.

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