PennDOT details what to expect with North Atherton construction this summer
Nearly 90 construction projects are taking place across the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s nine-county District 2 — which includes Centre — this year.
But that’s just a standard construction season for central Pennsylvania, according to Steven Fantechi, District 2’s assistant district executive for construction.
“Our district lets about 60 projects a year, and I would say we usually have about 20 to 25 carryover projects that last more than one year,” he told reporters on Wednesday, near the start of the North Atherton Street construction zone by the Nittany Lion Inn. “But this is a pretty normal construction season. Maybe last year we had a lot of late lettings, and we have an additional amount of projects going on, but this is pretty much normal.”
One of the biggest projects planned for this summer in Centre County was among the biggest projects for the past two summers, too — the $12,795,000 North Atherton Street project.
Now in Phase II, the project this season will focus mainly on repaving, drainage, curb and sidewalk work and utility relocation, project inspector Marc Maney said. Some of that construction will require crews to work around the clock, he said.
The effort will include paving from Aaron Drive to Blue Course Drive in May and June; work on the Big Hollow Culvert near the Original Waffle Shop from April 22-May 1; full-depth reconstruction on the stretch from Mitchell Avenue to Hillcrest Avenue from May 6-23; and repaving of the entire corridor again in October.
The paving, Maney said, will help even out the now-uneven and bumpy road conditions caused by prior drainage installation.
“With a lot of the drainage we had to install this year and last year, we had to install to the final elevations of what will be there once we pave it,” he said. “So the outside lanes were a little rough.”
Crews will pave one side of North Atherton at a time and likely reduce traffic to one lane in each direction while the paving is underway, Maney said.
PennDOT plans to work through the summer and wrap up Phase II by the end of the year. The third phase will focus on the section of Atherton from Park Avenue to Westerly Parkway, and is set start sometime in 2020 and last through the 2021 construction season, Maney said.
“A lot of the work we’re doing on this project isn’t part of a normal reconstruction project that we’d do in our district,” Maney said. Typically, we have a project where we’ll do drainage, curb work, sidewalks, the things you’re seeing out there getting upgraded and that’s it.”
With the Atherton Street project, Maney said, much of the work — such as replacing water, gas and communication lines — isn’t as visible.
“These are all utilities that need to be updated from time to time so the quality of life for residents in the area (isn’t) impacted,” he said.
In addition to that work, adding a larger pipe in the Big Hollow Culvert will help alleviate flooding in the area, Maney said.
As construction continues, PennDOT reminds motorists to use caution when driving through work zones. In 2018, 23 people were killed in work-zone crashes, according to PennDOT data.
“We want drivers to be aware of construction zones, follow the posted speed limits, be alert for flaggers in the roadway, use caution as they come through the zones, all the normal precautions they would take,” community-relations coordinator Marla Fannin said. “We want them to continue to do those things in order to keep themselves safe and obviously to keep our workers safe.”
Drivers can help keep themselves and workers safe, and avoid construction-related congestion, by monitoring delays and traffic restrictions through 511pa.com, she said. Information also is available by calling 511, following @511PAStateColl on Twitter and on PennDOT message boards set up ahead of the construction zone.
PennDOT plans to halt Atherton Street construction from Friday through Sunday to help alleviate Blue-White weekend traffic.
Other notable Centre County construction projects this year include these:
- The third phase of the $82.3 million Potters Mills Gap project to reconstruct U.S. Route 322 from Potters Mills to Sand Mountain Road
- Bridge preservation of two structures on state Routes 64 and 3014 and some work on the Milesburg truss as part of a $1.9 million project
- Work to replace the box culvert on the $784,000 bridge replacement project over the tributary to Wallace Run in Boggs Township on state Route 144
- Construction on the $1.45 million bridge replacement project over South Fork Beech Creek on state Route 144 in Snow Shoe Township
- Bridge preservation work of one structures over the railroad in Howard on state Route 26 for $1 million
- Local bridge replacement over Lower Georges Valley Run in Gregg Township for $1 million
- Bridge preservation of two structures on state Route 3010 in College Township and state Route 8022 in Patton Township for $2.2 million