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State gives lowdown on U.S. 30 project

March 24, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In about two weeks, motorists along U.S. 30 east of Chambersburg will experience the first of many traffic disruptions over 21/2 years as the highway widening project gets under way.

The impact on public safety and businesses along the 3.7-mile corridor were the main issues raised during a public meeting Tuesday at Faust Junior High School hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The project is broken into five phases, one of which is scheduled for this year, said Dick Wagner, construction coordinator for Hempt Bros., the Camp Hill, Pa., contractor for the $27 million job. That phase covers 2,400 feet from Burger King in Chambersburg east to Falling Spring Road. It also includes new water and gas lines and drainage work along the length of the project, which ends near Fayetteville, Pa.

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Wagner said reconstruction of the eastbound lanes out to Falling Spring Road will begin soon, with traffic shifted to one lane in each direction on the north side of the highway. By mid-summer, crews should finish replacing the old black top and concrete and traffic will shift to the south side.

The other phases - from Falling Spring to Quarry Road, Quarry to St. John's Drive, St. John's to Ragged Edge Road and Ragged Edge to the Guilford Township Municipal Park - will be done in sequence from 2005 to the fall of 2006, Wagner said.

"This is going to impact my operations severely. We could have a Route 30 parking lot," said Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Bobby Albrecht.

He said there will be no room for vehicles to pull over and allow emergency vehicles to pass.

Albrecht said construction delays could result in the loss of lives and property. He suggested state officials develop a system to inform emergency responders about delays and detours.

Wagner said construction schedules are updated weekly and can be viewed at www.penndot8.com.

Bob Weagly, owner of Bob's Music World, said the project will take too long and hurt businesses. He said he was a partner in a business that lost $32,000 in one year when Main Street in Chambersburg was rebuilt in the 1980s.

The project to widen the highway from three to five lanes, Weagly said, "is being done without consideration to the community, without consideration to businesses and without consideration to emergency services."

Transportation officials said at least one lane in each direction will be open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., and plans call for a center turn lane in November and December to accommodate holiday shoppers. At night, traffic in work zones could be closed to one lane.

Randy Staudt, a transportation department engineer, said access to businesses will remain open, but Frank Rovito, owner of Rita's Italian Ice, said his highest customer volume is after 8 p.m.

Others, such as Dr. Stanley Stratton of Lincoln Way Animal Hospital, said the inconvenience will be worth the later benefit.

"I guess we'll find out after the first phase and see how everything works," said Rob Snowberger, co-owner of Lincoln Electronics.

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