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‘Expect delays,’ PennDOT says as Centre County construction continues into late fall

‘Please be patient with us,’ PennDOT says

As road work along North Atherton Street continues, PennDOT representatives say communication is the name of the game in keeping the public updated and ask that drivers remain patient heading through work areas.
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As road work along North Atherton Street continues, PennDOT representatives say communication is the name of the game in keeping the public updated and ask that drivers remain patient heading through work areas.

Update: Due to Election Day on Tuesday, PennDOT will not close Hillcrest Avenue on either side of Atherton for waterline work, as closing that street would restrict access to the Hillcrest Avenue and Village Drive polling places. That work will instead take place Wednesday.

Although the leaves are finally changing color, the weather getting colder and the days shorter, construction season is still going strong in Centre County.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is continuing work on two major long-term construction projects — Potters Mills Gap and North Atherton Street — while the Interstate 99 Improvement Project, which saw paving and bridge repair work on the three-mile stretch of the highway between the Atherton Street Exit and Waddle Road intersection this summer, wrapped up a few weeks ago.

During the first full week of November, motorists can expect a reduced speed limit in the Atherton Street work zone, and more delays coming over the Seven Mountains.

Here’s what to expect for the upcoming week:

Atherton Street

Starting Monday until the estimated completion of the approximately two-year-long project next October, the work zone speed limit from Aaron Drive to the State College borough line near Mitchell Avenue will be reduced from 35 to 25 mph.

The speed limit on Atherton Street between West Mitchell Avenue and Prospect Avenue within the borough was permanently reduced to 25 mph this summer, after a speed study formally requested by PennDOT showed justification for lowering the speed limit on that stretch of the road to increase pedestrian and motorist safety.

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The borough council unanimously approved the ordinance change reducing the speed limit, and it went into effect June 1.

The temporary speed change from Aaron Drive to Mitchell Avenue was also the result of a speed study, according to PennDOT.

“This reduction is expected to increase safety for motorists, pedestrians and workers throughout the construction zone,” PennDOT said in a release.

Also starting on Monday, several lane closures will take place.

Traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction between West North Hills Place and Cherry Lane, as workers remove and repaint traffic lines.

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This schedule, provided by PennDOT, shows when different phases of scheduled work on the North Atherton Street Project are expected to take place. Centre Regional Planning Agency Graphic provided

“Eradicating and repainting traffic lines takes time,” PennDOT said. “Motorists should expect long delays Monday while this work is taking place.”

The West North Hills Place streets on both sides of Atherton also will be closed during that time.

A long-term lane closure on the far right lane heading toward Penn State’s campus between Cherry Lane and Woodland Drive will also be implemented Monday. That lane closure will be in place only while the contractor is working. Work consists of upgrading the drainage system, installing new curbing and sidewalks, and placing topsoil.

West Mitchell Avenue and Oak Street will also be closed during the daylight hours Monday, and Hillcrest Avenue will be closed on both sides of Atherton on Wednesday while the contractor works to tie the new water line to the existing water line in both locations.

Outbound traffic from the university will continue to be reduced to a single lane between Hillcrest and Park avenues as Verizon continues performing wire installation.

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Construction continues on North Atherton Street. Abby Drey Centre Daily Times, file

In addition to adhering to the new posted speed limit, PennDOT also reminds motorists to use caution while traveling through the work zone and be mindful of flaggers who may be on the road directing traffic. Motorists are encourage to use both lanes to merge points throughout the work zone, be patient and courteous to other drivers, share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists and buses and not to follow construction equipment into the closed lane.

Pedestrians are also encouraged to cross Atherton Street only at the Aaron Drive, Hillcrest and Park avenue intersections.

As these lane closures could cause delays, PennDOT encourages motorists to allow for extra time while traveling through Atherton Street.

PennDOT construction manager Greg Sidorick discusses the progress on the U.S. Route 322 Potter Mills project.

Potters Mills Gap

Delays PennDOT warned motorists about last week will remain a possibility this week as work continues on the “crossover” section and various traffic switches are anticipated on the eastern end of the project through next week.

Westbound traffic will be redirected to the crossover starting Thursday.

Delays also are anticipated during the daylight hours between state Route 144 and Mountain Back Road as crews work on utility relocations.

PennDOT also encourages motorists to be alert for construction vehicles enter and exiting U.S. Route 322 through the Potters Mills area, as work is also continuing off the roadway.

As work continues on the estimated five-year project, PennDOT advises motorists that the Route 141 and 45 detour may return this month as road widening occurs.

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The construction is part of the third and final phase of the $82.4 million project to reconstruct the highway from Sand Mountain Road to Potters Mills with a four-lane extension and a new intersection with state Route 144.

The project, which is meant to improve safety and reduce congestion, started in 2015 with the construction of a new bridge at Sand Mountain Road. Phase two, which wrapped up in January with the tree removal along the two-lane section of the highway, created the new Sand Mountain Road local interchange.

Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc, of State College, was awarded the $82,374,064 bid for the final phase in March. The project is estimated to be completed by October 2021, construction manager Greg Sidorick told the Centre Daily Times in May.

Up-to-date information on both the Potters Mills Gap and Atherton Street project, including detours and delays, can be found at at PennDOT’s interactive website. Real-time updates on detours and delays can also be found at www.511PA.com, or by following @511PAStateColl on Twitter or by calling 511.

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