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End of U.S. 30 widening project celebrated

November 03, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The sign at the podium Thursday in the Four Points Sheraton about summed up the 2 1/2-year U.S. 30 widening project:

"Thank You for Your Patience!"

State Sen. Terry Punt was joined by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 8 Engineer Barry Hoffman, contractor Max Hempt and others in thanking residents and businesses along the highway and the motorists who use it for their patient suffering through the project to widen a 3 1/2-mile stretch of the corridor from three lanes to five lanes between Chambersburg and Fayetteville, Pa.

"For 2 1/2 years, business was disrupted day in and day out," Punt said during the symbolic ribbon-cutting in the hotel. "I could go out and close down traffic on Route 30, but I think the motorists have been inconvenienced enough," he said before cutting the ribbon.

"It's going to be better because people can move more freely, safer and with less congestion," Punt said of the project, which took almost two decades from conception to completion. It was the major piece of a program to improve a 54-mile section of U.S. 30 between St. Thomas, Pa., in the west to Thomasville, Pa., in York County in the east.

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Other improvements in Franklin County included reconfiguring or installing traffic signals at intersections with Pa. 233, Pa. 997, Mont Alto Road, Pa. 995, Hade Road and Jack Road, Punt said. A traffic signal and reconfiguration are scheduled for 2007 at the Sollenberger Road intersection, he said.

"The businesses I'm sure had a lot of nice things to say about PennDOT," Hoffman said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. Businesses have often had access restricted while the roadway was torn up and replaced a section at a time, he said.

One merchant, however, said the project's completion should bring immediate benefits for him.

"It's wonderful timing because I think it's going to make it very easy to access Guilford Plaza," said Leonard DeFrank, who is about to open a Cartridge World franchise in the shopping center.

Hempt Bros. of Camp Hill, Pa., was the prime contractor on the job, which Punt said was completed on time and about $3 million under its $27 million budget.

Widening the road meant doing a lot of work overhead, underneath and on either side of the asphalt, while keeping 32,000 vehicles moving along the route each day. Hoffman noted that 177 separate right-of-way agreements had to be negotiated and 10 different sewer, water, gas, electric, cable, telephone and gas utilities were involved, while Max Hempt said 24,000 feet of pipe and 31,000 feet of curbing were installed.

Following his election to the Senate in 1988, Punt said he was able to secure state funding of $99 million for a bypass of Chambersburg and $196 million for Gettysburg, but those projects failed to meet federal requirements for traffic reduction. He later formed a U.S. 30 task force of municipalities along the 54-mile section of road to reach a consensus on what improvements were needed.

Now that U.S. 30 is largely completed, Punt told guests at the ribbon-cutting that he is forming an Interstate 81 task force to shepherd widening that from four to six lanes. He also noted that U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster had recently secured $500,000 for an initial study of another exit south of Exit 14 in Guilford Township.

It will be years, he said, before either of those proposals reaches of the point of actual construction.

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