State College

North Atherton road work could begin this fall, last for 6 years

Road work on North Atherton Street could start in the fall and last at least six years.
Road work on North Atherton Street could start in the fall and last at least six years. CDT photo

David Panko hopes upcoming construction on North Atherton Street won’t put too much of a damper on business.

The Patton Township Business Association president said that road construction “doesn’t seem to end” in the Centre Region.

And it won’t stop anytime soon on a stretch of road through Patton and Ferguson townships and State College borough.

But Panko said the association will do anything it can to work with the state Department of Transportation to limit any major impediments that prevent customers from patronizing companies along that corridor — and work with businesses to keep foot traffic steady.

“There will be a lot of grumblings about this one,” Panko said. “We’ll find a way to work with each other the best we can.”

Two representatives from the PennDOT-Clearfield branch unveiled plans for a multiphase, multiyear, multimillion-dollar project on North Atherton Street that could start as soon as Sept. 11 and last at least six years.

PennDOT engineers Michael Haynes and Karen Michael told members of the Patton Township Business Association at its monthly meeting Wednesday that the department is working with business and residential communities to make the process as smooth as possible.

“You’re going to have disruption, but we hope to minimize it,” Michael said.

Road construction

The North Atherton drainage and repaving project will consist of inlet and drainage replacement, paving and Americans with Disabilities Act ramp upgrades.

The first phase will cover a 1.5-mile stretch from Colonnade Way to Aaron Drive and the repaving of a half-mile section from Park Avenue near the Nittany Lion Inn to College Avenue.

“Weather permitting, we should start that in the fall,” Michael said about the borough paving area. “We’ll mill the asphalt and then repave it. We’re hoping to do it between football games and the weather.”

Phase one will begin this fall — with the bulk of the construction in the late spring and summer — and should be complete before students head back to Penn State at the end of next summer.

“We’re trying to get it done quickly,” Haynes said.

Bump in the road

The only planned detour during phase one will come next year on Martin Street at the North Atherton intersection near Best Buy and Red Lobster.

It will be closed for two to three days so workers can install pipe underground, Michael said.

The department also was given the green light by Patton Township to do “significant night work” on North Atherton from Vairo Boulevard near Wal-Mart to Colonnade Way, Michael said.

Night work would partially avoid heavy construction during peak traffic times — from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

About 35,000 vehicles use that corridor daily, Michael said.

Additional details

Phase one will cost about $3.4 million. The entire cost of the project is still up in the air, but it will be fully funded through PennDOT, Haynes said.

For the duration of the project, North Atherton will be down to one lane in each direction at the construction sites, Michael said. But it will be a section-by-section project, so only portions of the road will be narrowed at a time.

In need of repair

The project comes after a “lengthy” PennDOT study of drainage pipes and road maintenance on North Atherton. Its last major project was in 1997, Michael said.

“We need to fix Atherton because of such deterioration,” Michael said. “That’s a long time to go without significant work.”

The second phase — which could cost up to $14 million — will be from Aaron Drive to Park Avenue, followed by a third phase from Park Avenue to Westerly Parkway. The final phase would be from Westerly Parkway to Scenery Drive.