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Some holiday relief due motorists on U.S. 30

December 17, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Motorists along U.S. 30 will see a break in construction activity as the holidays approach and planned work on the Exit 17 bridge of Interstate 81 that would have disrupted nighttime traffic next week has been delayed.

No lanes will be closed on U.S. 30 on Thursday and no work will be done on Dec. 24 or Dec. 31, because of the holidays, said Richard Shoemaker, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation project manager for the $27 million U.S. 30 widening project and the $15.7 million Exit 17 project.

Hempt Bros. Inc. of Camp Hill, Pa., is the prime contractor for both projects, Shoemaker said.

All lanes from Chambersburg east to Franklin Farm Lane should be open today, Shoemaker said Wednesday. Major work this week includes installing storm drainage on the north side of the highway near the shopping center that houses Ollie's Bargain Outlet and waterline installation on the south side near Quarry Road, according to the department's District 8 Web site.

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After a scheduling meeting earlier this week, Shoemaker said the crossbeams of the Exit 17 bridge connecting Walker Road and Franklin Farm Lane were to be put in place beginning Sunday night, weather permitting. On Thursday, however, department spokesman Greg Penny said predictions of rain or snow for early next week have resulted in the work being postponed until at least January.

When the bridge work gets started, Shoemaker said interstate traffic will be diverted onto the north and southbound on- and off-ramps between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The work tentatively has been rescheduled to begin Jan. 4, he said Thursday.

The U.S. 30 project to widen the highway from three to five lanes from Chambersburg east to Fayetteville, Pa., began in March and, despite some changes in the sequence of the work, remains on schedule for completion in September 2006.

"We're not where we want to be, but we're not behind schedule," Shoemaker said Wednesday. The biggest problem construction crews have encountered is rock, he said.

"You can't see underground," Shoemaker said of the limestone formations that have slowed work, particularly on a 24-inch main for Chambersburg's water system and stormwater drain installations.

Shoemaker said those delays have resulted in some work on the eastern end of the project, including stormwater drainage installation and preparatory work for the later installation of traffic signals, being moved up.

Work along U.S. 30 might be shut down for a few weeks beginning in February because of cold temperatures. "Concrete doesn't set right in extremely cold weather," he said.

Traffic was crawling along the highway Wednesday afternoon near Ollie's where Jerri Martin was selling Christmas trees. Despite the traffic jams, she said business has been good.

"Actually, it's probably been better than last year or the year before," she said.

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