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2 1/2-year U.S. 30 project nearly complete

Manager says he hopes the $27 million widening will be finished by October

Manager says he hopes the $27 million widening will be finished by October

September 10, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Hundreds of orange and white traffic barrels still form a maze that motorists must negotiate each day, but the $27 million U.S. 30 widening project begun more than two years ago is entering the home stretch.

"We hope to have the contract work done by the first of October," Project Manager Ray Alden said Friday. The last of the paving work was finished on Thursday, he said.

Installation of sections of 2-foot wide mountable concrete medians and signs, some topsoil work and line painting remains to be done, Alden said. After all five lanes are opened and traffic flow is established, lights at Mower Road, Garman Drive, Wal-Mart and Ragged Edge Road will be synchronized, he said.

"That's the biggest question we get from people stopping by," Alden said about the traffic signals.

He said drivers occasionally drop in at the former Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that serves as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's project headquarters to ask about the job.

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Alden said some "bumps" have developed in the completed section closer to Chambersburg, but remedial work will not be done until 2007.

Work to widen the 3.5-mile section between Chambersburg and Fayetteville, Pa., began in March 2004 and was scheduled to finish this fall.

State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, Adams, York, said it will be completed about a month ahead of schedule.

"The weather has been good to us," Alden said. "The traffic's been good. The drivers have been very cooperative," he said, showing off a box of cookies that one woman recently handed to a traffic flagger.

Punt said he is working to put together some kind of ceremony in the next few weeks to mark the end of the project, which he has been pushing since 1989, his first year in the Pennsylvania Senate.

"Every attempt at making improvements to U.S. 30 in the past 40 years had failed," Punt said Friday. "The traffic congestion, the safety factor. It was horrible."

About 32,000 vehicles use this section of U.S. 30 each day, according to PennDOT figures.

"My main goal I wanted to achieve was a bypass around Chambersburg and Gettysburg," Punt said. At one point, the late Gov. Bob Casey had signed legislation for both projects, but subsequent studies determined that bypasses would not have resulted in sufficient reductions in traffic to justify the expense, he said.

A task force of state and local government and elected officials and economic development organizations was formed to look at improving the corridor along a 54-mile stretch Through Franklin and Adams counties and into western York County, Punt said.

"It took about two years to come up with recommendations for the Route 30 corridor," he said. Some of the recommendations for this county, including traffic signals at dangerous intersections east and west of Chambersburg, were begun and completed several years ago, he said.

"This project is just fantastic for the area," said Punt, who predicts the completed widening project will meet the goals of increasing traffic flow, reducing congestion and increasing safety.

The senator said he appreciated the patience of the motorists and the businesses along the affected route.

"I personally don't think it's affected our business," said Rod Cline, owner of Cline Collision Repair, 1460 Lincoln Way East. He said his company moved across the highway into a new building at about the time construction began "and we've continually grown."

"The Hempt Bros. have been very kind and courteous," he said of the Camp Hill, Pa., company that is the prime contractor.

While construction has caused traffic problems, U.S. 30 "was a mess before," he said.

"It still will be nice at the end of the month," Cline added.

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