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Pa. to widen part of U.S. 30

Officials say project to begin at end of year

Officials say project to begin at end of year

January 13, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

It's been dubbed the "most complex" and "most significant" road project in Franklin County.

By the end of this year, if things go as planned, construction crews will begin moving dirt for the widening of U.S. 30 East (Lincoln Way East) from its intersection with Stouffer Avenue and Walker Road, under Interstate 81 to a point 3.7 miles east, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Highways said.

Mike Crochunis, in PennDOT's Region 8 Office in Harrisburg, Pa., said construction bids are expected to go out in July. Construction could take 18 months or longer.

"The real work will take place in 2004 and should be complete sometime in 2005," he said.

PennDOT studies show that, on average, 32,000 vehicles pass through that section of U.S. 30 every day. About 12 percent are trucks, Crochunis said.

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Wall-to-wall commercial development - from Wal Mart and Lowe's to gas/convenience stores to restaurants to auto dealerships - lines both sides of U.S. 30 east of Chambersburg.

"It's the most heavily traveled route in Franklin County except for I-81," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Authority. "It's the main gateway to Gettysburg (Pa.) and it's heavily congested."

He said widening the road is "the most significant transportation project in Franklin County."

"It's absolutely critical to improving the traffic flow and providing better access to businesses," Ross said.

Design plans for the project call for widening the 3.7-mile stretch from two to four lanes with the addition of a fifth turn lane down the middle. A new traffic light system will be coordinated with the existing traffic control system in Chambersburg, Crochunis said.

The estimated cost is $29.4 million, including $22.6 million for construction, $3 million for engineering costs, $290,000 to move utilities and $3.6 million to acquire rights of way.

Crochunis said rights of way are being obtained from 174 property owners. Some are minimal, he said.

There have been preliminary objections among some property owners that caused delays in the project, he said.

Crochunis said PennDOT will do what it can to limit the inconvenience to drivers.

The new turning lane will be constructed early into the project.

"We're going to maintain driveway access to all of the businesses," he said. "There may be some alternative entrances during construction."

Work will be stopped during times of peak rush hour traffic.

The contractor will hold a public meeting at the beginning of the project. Other meetings will be scheduled in the event of major changes during construction, Crochunis said.

"We've been lobbying for this project for 10 years," said Dave Sciamanna, executive director of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce. "It's the most complex project PennDOT has ever done in Franklin County."

"PennDOT said it will do all it can to make the construction phase as painless as possible," Sciamanna said. "It's going to be a very trying period.

"We will all have to suffer together during construction," he said. "There will be problems for businesses, but the long-term benefits will be tremendous."

Chris Snavely, owner of Snavely's Garden Corner at 2106 Lincoln Way East, said his business is busiest in the spring, summer and fall. Construction will present a burden for his nursery, he said, but existing congestion Lincoln Way East already affects his business.

"We know without question that it's going to be a hardship during construction," he said.

"It will be a mess when it gets started, but it will be fine when it's over," said Eric Von Dar, owner of Eric Von Dar's Elite Tattooing at 1232 Lincoln Way East. "I'm on the south side of the road so it won't be as bad for me."

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