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Punt asks for patience with project

February 25, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

After 16 years of waiting for the U.S. 30 widening project to get started, state Sen. Terry Punt on Tuesday counseled residents to be patient for another 21/2 years.

"I would encourage all to exercise patience, extreme patience in the summer months," Punt said at a luncheon to announce the beginning of construction on the $27 million project to widen the highway from three to five lanes from Brumbaugh Avenue in Chambersburg east to Norlo Drive in Fayetteville, Pa.

Once construction begins in earnest, Punt said there will be at least one eastbound and one westbound lane open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., but the route could be closed to one lane in some sections overnight.

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Punt, R-Franklin, cautioned those taking alternate routes around the construction that those secondary roads were not built for high volumes of traffic.

The price tag on the entire U.S. 30 widening, some components of which have been completed, will be about $45 million, said Punt, who proposed the project as a freshman senator in the late 1980s. That figure includes studies and engineering costs, additional traffic signals along the corridor between St. Thomas and McKnightstown, Pa., and resurfacing a section east of the stretch being widened.

Along with the reconstruction and widening, some utilities along the right of way still have to be moved, according to Max Hempt, vice president of Hempt Bros. Inc. of Camp Hill, Pa., the company awarded the contract by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Moving power, telephone, water, sewage and gas lines is being done at the expense of those utilities, he said.

Much of the work this year will involve replacing the storm water drainage system along the route, but some reconstruction also will be done in 2004, Hempt said.

Hempt Bros. soon will begin the construction of the long-delayed Exit 17 for Interstate 81, a $15 million project that ties in with the U.S. 30 widening. That project includes removing the Walker Road overpass and constructing a new overpass and interchange several hundred yards south of the current site.

Further complicating the transportation picture is the extension of Norland Avenue in Chambersburg. The project has yet to go to bid, but Borough Manager Eric Oyer said, "Our objective is to have Norland constructed to Walker before the end of 2005."

There are about two dozen intersections and major shopping center entrances, including Wal-Mart, along the stretch of road being widened, along with many private driveways. Barry Hoffman, the District 8 engineer for the department of transportation, said 177 rights of way had to be secured along the route.

"We'll meet with local businesses and residents to see how their access can best be maintained," Hoffman said. That meeting likely will take place in late March, Hempt said.

"My concern is the impediment construction will have on traffic," said Chris Snavely, owner of Snavely's Garden Corner, 2106 Lincoln Way East. His business is just east of where the project ends, but he is concerned a lot of people will not want to battle traffic congestion and construction delays to get there.

"We certainly welcome the project because the outcome will be extremely beneficial," Snavely said.

A planned traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Ragged Edge Road would improve access to his business because many motorists will not try a left turn onto U.S. 30 because of the heavy traffic, he said.

According to the Department of Transportation, one eastbound and one westbound lane will be open from March 1 to Nov. 15. From Nov. 16 to the end of the year, two lanes and a center turn lane will be open to limit interference with the holiday shopping season.

Regularly updated information on the project will be available on the department's construction Web site at www.penndot8.com.

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