By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer
In future years, the route that’s a gateway to four Shenango Valley communities will be wide enough to hold all of its names.
As the 2013 road construction season begins, work on widening what’s known in Farrell as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to three lanes is set to start in earnest.
Come March 25, northbound traffic will be rerouted at Council Avenue in Wheatland and the north lane will be closed until Halloween, according to PennDOT.
The $8.4 million project is being done by Kirila Contractors, Brookfield. It will widen state Route 760-718 – known in Hermitage as Swamp Road, in Wheatland as Broadway Avenue, in Farrell as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and in Sharon as Dock Street.
The road is being widened to create a center left-turn lane, and work will include radius improvements to various intersections, new concrete sidewalks, and upgraded drainage, utilities, highway lighting, signs and landscaping.
The idea is to make the road a safer, more efficient and more attractive travel corridor, according to PennDOT.
This is the second year of construction and work will focus on Martin Luther King Boulevard from Fruit Avenue to Roemer Boulevard in Farrell.
In 2012, work started at Council Avenue in Wheatland and extended to the area near Fruit Avenue.
Work on the 1.25-mile long project is scheduled to be complete late this fall.
The project is being paid with 80 percent federal funds and 20 percent state funds, according to PennDOT.
When work begins, weather permitting on March 25, Route 718 northbound will be closed between the intersection with Church Street/Mercer Avenue/Emerson Avenue and the intersection with Roemer Boulevard.
A detour for northbound traffic will be posted using stateRoute 18 and U.S. Route 62.
Southbound traffic will be maintained on Route 718, but there will be an 11-foot width restriction on vehicles that will remain in place through the end of October.
As work progresses through the summer, all intersecting local side streets will have to be closed and detours posted. Those side streets include Fruit, Wallis and Spearman avenues and Kishon, Highland, Neeb, Stevenson, Bond, Negley and Adams streets.
Detours will be announced in advance of the closings.