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Waynesboro Center Square project gets green light

November 07, 2008|By DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Plans to reconfigure Waynesboro's Center Square have been approved, voted down, redesigned and approved again over the past 14 years, but Pennsylvania state Sen. Terry Punt said Thursday the contract was recently signed and "nothing will stop it."

The $3.2 million project will reconfigure the square and replace and synchronize traffic signals at six intersections in the borough, said Punt, who will retire at the end of the month after representing the county in the state House and Senate for 30 years.

Discussions with community leaders for a Pa. 16 corridor study began in 1989 during a meeting at the Waynesboro Country Club, and money for the study was secured 14 years ago, Punt said. On Thursday, he cut a cake at the country club to mark the kickoff of the project.

While surveying and other tasks have begun, construction is scheduled to begin in March and be completed by September 2009, Punt said. The aging traffic signals will be replaced with ones compatible with downtown architecture and the pedestrian areas around the square extended, he said.

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The Waynesboro Borough Council went back and forth on the square reconfiguration a few times over the years and Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said Thursday the community is still split on the proposed change.

"We are tampering with a square that has been functional since the 1700s" when it was laid out by Waynesboro founder John Wallace, said John Leos, owner of the Candy Kitchen on the square. Extending the sidewalk areas will make it more difficult for emergency vehicles and large trucks to turn onto either North or South Church streets, Leos said Thursday night.

About a decade ago, Leos said he collected 3,000 signatures and led a demonstration of about 1,000 people in opposition to changing the square.

The project will improve safety and traffic flow and reduce congestion, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 8 Executive Scott Christie said. The contract was awarded to J.D. Eckman Inc. of Atglen, Pa.

After the signals and the square are completed, Punt said the resurfacing of Main Street will be bid separately. The cost of materials, particularly asphalt, skyrocketed this past summer as oil prices soared, making it more practical to wait for prices to stabilize, he said.

"It will be the third time I've had Main Street resurfaced during my time in office," he said.

Pa. 16 corridor improvements over the years have included a truck climbing lane east of Rouzerville, Pa., widening it to three lanes in the Wayne Heights area, and other traffic signal and intersection work, Punt said. The bill, he said, has probably exceeded $11 million.

Transportation projects in Franklin, Adams and York counties have been a big part of Punt's career, including widening U.S. 30 between Chambersburg and Fayetteville, Pa., from three to five lanes, a project that took 16 years from conception to completion.

While retirement is about three weeks away, Punt said he is working on one more project for the Waynesboro area. If funding is secured, he said, it could be announced in one or two weeks.

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