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More roadwork ahead for I-81 drivers

February 11, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Adding to a flurry of road construction projects in Franklin County, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is poised to award a contract for a project on Interstate 81 from Chambersburg south to Antrim Township.

Monday and Tuesday nights, construction crews laid 14 70-foot, 50-ton concrete beams across the interstate to bridge the east and west sides of Exit 17, the new interchange scheduled to open this summer. While the sections were being lifted into place with a 250-ton capacity crane, traffic was diverted onto the on- and off-ramps of the new exit, according to Richard Shoemaker, the project manager for the department.

"We finally got two good days in a row and knocked it out," said Shoemaker. The beams originally were scheduled to be laid in early January, he said.

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The department also recently announced plans to patch and overlay 9.4 miles of the highway from Exit 16 south through Guilford and Antrim townships to a point about 1.4 miles north of Exit 5 in Greencastle, Pa.

Valley Quarries Inc. of Chambersburg is expected to be awarded the contract, according to Shoemaker. The company submitted the lowest of two bids received for the work at $12,658,731.17, substantially lower than the other bidder, he said.

The notice to proceed with the work is expected to be given March 21 and the completion date is October 2006, Shoemaker said.

Work on the highway includes patching the concrete base, repairing joints and overlaying the road surface with Superpave, a more durable form of asphalt. It also includes guardrail and minor drainage improvements, median crossovers, line painting and ramp extensions, according to the department.

Shoemaker said the southbound on-ramp acceleration lane and northbound off-ramp deceleration lane of Exit 16 will both be extended about 800 feet. The on-ramp extension will allow vehicles more distance to merge with traffic and the off-ramp extension will lessen the problem of vehicles stacking up while trying to exit the highway.

"We've found in our work down here that traffic backs up getting off northbound," he said. Traffic signals on U.S. 30 at the end of the off-ramp eventually will be adjusted to turn green to clear the ramp when too many vehicles are stacked up, Shoemaker said.

Once the $15.7 million Exit 17 interchange opens in June, Shoemaker said work will begin on demolishing the Walker Road overpass north of the exit. He said I-81 traffic will have to be stopped for frequent 15-minute intervals during the time the bridge is being taken down.

Work on the $27 million U.S. 30 widening project between Chambersburg and Fayetteville, Pa., will enter a new phase this year, according to Shoemaker. That will include the total reconstruction of the road between Stouffer Avenue in Chambersburg east to Quarry Road in Guilford Township.

A public meeting updating the U.S. 30 project will be March 2 at 6:30 p.m at Faust Junior High School, Shoemaker said.

Another road project set to start this year is the extension of Norland Avenue to Walker Road south of Exit 17 in Chambersburg.

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