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Constuction could close Waynesboro street for two years

February 09, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. - East Second Street between Virginia Avenue and Enterprise Avenue could be closed for more than two years under a proposal developed Thursday morning by a contingent of school and municipal officials.

Councilmen Allen Porter and Richard "Dick" George, who attended the meeting with borough and schools staff, favored the idea and said they would take it to the full council at its Feb. 21 meeting.

"Remember, Al and I represent two-sixths of a council," George said.

Construction vehicles and excavation associated with the high school's $46 million expansion and renovation project have altered school bus activity and traffic patterns in the area.

School officials always knew traffic would be a concern but realized three weeks ago that the fenced-in "disturbance area" would be larger than anticipated, Schools Superintendent Barry Dallara said.

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Under the proposal, the section of street would be closed at all times to everything except school traffic. The group agreed to meet before the end of the school year to discuss reopening that block over the summer.

The closure would divert traffic onto Pa. 16 via Virginia and Enterprise avenues. Borough staff encouraged detour signs well beyond the affected area.

"A lot of people use Second (Street) as a bypass," Borough Maintenance Superintendent Dennis Benshoff said.

The original plan during construction was to use the high school driving range for school bus staging, but, with that torn up, Plan B finds buses loading in shifts, Middle School Principal Larry Bricker said.

Thirteen buses load in the middle school parking lot each afternoon, then move to the back parking lot at the high school. A dozen more follow.

"The problem comes in if we're no longer able to use that back parking lot," Bricker said.

That "problem" could be realized in six to eight weeks when geothermal well drilling begins behind the high school, disturbing student parking there.

While contractors could soon be asked to park at Waynesboro Mall, buses and staff vehicles still mean that "the bottom line for students who drive to the high school is there isn't going to be any place for them to park," Porter said.

The district and borough are in negotiations to extend Third Street to the school property, which is expected to cause students to park on Myrtle Avenue during the 26-month construction project. Officials said extending Third Street with one direction of travel might provide a way for buses to reach the back of the high school.

The closure of East Second Street met favor from the group in part because it would have been blocked off temporarily during construction anyway. Plans include work on water mains in the area.

With the exterior of the high's school's new wing expected to be complete in a year, the construction fence could be adjusted to affect less of the school property, Dallara said.

Officials agreed to periodically revisit the road closure's necessity.

"It doesn't mean this is necessarily a 26-month closure," George said.

Dallara remarked that closing East Second Street in front of the school would reduce the risk of accidents in the construction zone. Bricker said using the closed block as a staging area for buses would better facilitate student drop-off and pickup.

"This is the proposal we're going to make (to council), and we'll see if we can sell it," George said.

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