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Chambersburg chooses I-81 detours

April 03, 2001

Chambersburg chooses I-81 detours



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


The Borough of Chambersburg and local organizations have worked out alternative detours should roadway construction threaten to interfere with two major downtown events this year.

Borough Manager Eric Oyer and representatives from Downtown Chambersburg Inc., and the Downtown Business Council hammered out the backup plan to begin this spring, when construction on Interstate 81 and Pa. 997 occurs.

Oyer and planners of the July 21 ChambersFest and the Oct. 20 Apple Fest, which both shut down the stretch of U.S. 11 between King and Washington streets, wanted a backup plan in case construction emergencies - such as an accident closing southbound I-81 - would funnel traffic down U.S. 11.

"A whole series of factors would need to come into play for it to be a problem," Oyer told the Chambersburg Borough Council last week.

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For instance, the closure of the interstate north of Exit 6 would first detour traffic onto Pa. 997, east onto U.S. 30 and then onto I-81 at Exit 6.

That would not affect the two festivals, but if ongoing construction on Pa. 997 prohibited it from serving as a detour, the thousands of tractor-trailers and cars that travel on I-81 through Franklin County would be sent south on U.S. 11 - right into the street festivals.

In a worst-case scenario, the groups have devised alternate routes that would allow the downtown events to continue uninterrupted.

The groups will help pay for the necessary signs, Oyer said.

The detours would route southbound trucks east on King Street to Fifth Avenue, where they would turn eastbound onto U.S. 30 to I-81.

Cars would be directed west on King Street, south on Franklin Street, east on Loudon Street to Cedar Street and east on Washington Street, where they would be funneled back onto U.S. 11.

The separate routes would entail fewer and wider turns for the trucks.

Oyer added that since the events are on Saturdays, the odds of construction on Pa. 997 are slim, hopefully eliminating the needs for the alternates.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation began the first phase of improving the stretch of I-81 north of Chambersburg between Exits 8 and 9 last month. It will take almost two years to rebuild the road from Pa. 997 to the county line.

Work on Pa. 997, which is expected to be completed late this summer, involves repaving the road from the Chambersburg Mall to U.S. 30, according to PennDOT.

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