Mike Turzai

House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny

Private and public construction projects — including the widening of Oakland Avenue in White Township — could resume under legislation the speaker of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives plans to introduce.

Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, said Friday that he would introduce House Bill 2400 next week,

It would require the state secretary of community and economic development to issue a waiver to Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 business closure order, for construction activities that can adhere to social distancing practices and other mitigation measures, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to protect workers from COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.

“Pennsylvania is the only state to shut down all active public and private construction sites, while issuing some selective waivers on an ad hoc basis,” Turzai wrote in a memo seeking co-sponsors for his legislation.

That could include the $19.83 million project on Route 286 (Oakland Avenue) between Rustic Lodge Road and the Route 422 interchange.

“At this point, all PennDOT projects are postponed,” said Yasmeen Manyisha, interim spokesperson for the state transportation department’s White Township-based District 10. “Once the hold is lifted, the crews will need to re-access the projects to determine when they can resume.”

Manyisha said that included the White Township project, on which Gulisek Construction LLC is the contractor.

Work began earlier this month with drainage placement operations between Rustic Lodge Road and Day Drive. The work is expected to take two years to complete, on about 1.5 miles of roadway.

“While governors in New Jersey, California, Illinois and New York have issued shelter-in-place orders,” Turzai said, “they have all included exemptions for construction personnel and construction activities.”

The House speaker said halting projects that are of an open-air nature makes no sense and could impact PennDOT’s capital program in the form of “delay claims” PennDOT would be obliged to pay.

“These claims could reach hundreds of millions of dollars,” Turzai said.

PENNDOT EXTENSIONS

PennDOT announced today that expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, learner’s permits, persons with disability placards, vehicle registrations and safety and emission inspections will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Deadlines on the following products will be extended effective March 27:

• For driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16 through April 30, the expiration date is now extended through May 31.

• For vehicle registrations, safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through April 30, the expiration date is now extended through May 31.

• For persons with Disabilities parking placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through April 30, the expiration date is now extended through May 31.

These extensions are in addition to those announced on March 16.

Additionally, all driver license centers and photo license centers in Pennsylvania are closed for counter service until further notice.

DRIVE-THRU FOOD COLLECTION

Downtown Indiana Inc. said in an email Friday that there will be a drive-thru food collection at Colonial Motors, 349 N. Fourth St., Indiana, on Monday and Tuesday, from noon to 3 p.m. each day.

The drive will aid the Indiana County Community Action Program’s food pantry. Those interested in contributing food items simply need to drive up and drop them off at the dealership.

Those wishing to donate food at other times are asked to take those items to ICCAP’s warehouse, 1840 S. Sixth St., Indiana, during normal business hours.

ICCAP said diapers and baby formula donations also are welcome.

LITTER PICKUP CANCELED

A litter pickup to be conducted on Blue Spruce Road on Saturday, April 4, has been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. The Evergreen Conservancy said the event will be rescheduled at a later date.

CURBSIDE RECYCLING LIMITED

Indiana County Solid Waste Authority is making temporary changes to the curbside recycling collection program in Indiana Borough and White Township. These changes are meant to help slow the spread COVID-19.

Beginning on Monday, April 13, the curbside collection of recyclable materials will be limited to newspaper and #1 and #2 plastic bottles only. Newspapers should be bagged or tied when being recycled.

This change is being implemented to protect the health of recycling workers and the public by reducing the hand sorting of materials. Please understand that this change in services is only temporary; notice will be given when full curbside service is restored. Full recycling of household materials (cardboard, newspaper, office paper, magazines, glass, cans, plastic bottles and yard waste) can continue to be dropped off at the Indiana County Recycling Center.