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Long traffic stops over the Seven Mountains to extend for another week

Potters Mills Gap new highway will have traffic by end of 2020

A view of existing Route 322 from two Potters Mills Gap project construction sites where the new four-lane highway Route 322 will be constructed - on the Potters Mills side and on the Sand Mountain Road side, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018.
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A view of existing Route 322 from two Potters Mills Gap project construction sites where the new four-lane highway Route 322 will be constructed - on the Potters Mills side and on the Sand Mountain Road side, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018.

Those who use U.S. Route 322 to travel from Mifflin County into the State College area can expect the long delays experienced this week over the Seven Mountains to continue for another week.

In a Thursday release, the state Department of Transportation said that the rock-fall work in Potters Mills Gap will continue on weekdays through Dec. 14. While that work is taking place, motorists can expect traffic stops of up to 15 minutes, the release said, as a means to keep people safe while larger rocks are being broken up.

The work involves breaking up large boulders that perch on the mountainside and stabilizing the ground so the rocks don’t fall onto the roadway, as the Centre Daily Times previously reported. Most of the stops are supposed to occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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The rock-fall work began Monday, causing long delays and headaches for drivers. Some have taken to social media to voice their frustration, some saying the stoppages have been as long as 25-45 minutes.

In addition to the rock blasting, the crossover from Decker Road to Sand Mountain and a 13-foot width restriction is still in place, and will remain so throughout the winter. PennDOT also advises motorists traveling in the Potters Mills area to be alert for construction vehicles entering and exiting Route 322, as work is also continuing off the roadway.

The construction is part of the third and final phase of the approximately $93 million project, which was started in 2015 with the purpose of improving safety and reducing congestion over the mountain from the Centre/Mifflin county line to west of the Route 322/144 intersection at Potters Mills.

The first two phases included the construction of a new bridge at Sand Mountain Road, tree removal and the creation of the new Sand Mountain Road local interchange. The final phase is reconstructing the highway from Sand Mountain Road to Potters Mills with the four-lane extension, drainage work and building a new intersection with Route 144 that will be part of the new local access road.

Motorists making the commute over the mountain can keep up-to-date on traffic conditions and travel delays by visiting www.511PA.com, following @511StateCollege or calling 511. PennDOT also has a message board up ahead of the construction zone to give motorists an idea of waiting times.

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