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Route 68 Project Changing Traffic Patterns Prompts Discussion, Confusion
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The steady stream of construction and change in traffic patterns on a portion of Route 68 near Interstate 80 Exit 62 for many months has confused more than one motorist and prompted discussions that start with the word cluster.
(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography.)
Patience is needed because it could continue for some time, according to PennDOT.
Stretching from the I-80 eastbound on/off-ramp to approximately 1.3 miles south of Clarion Borough in Clarion and Monroe Townships, the $11,681,819.73 project officially started September 24, 2018, and could last until 2020 or 2021 depending on the weather.
“May of 2021 is the completion date,” said PennDOT Construction Manager Dave Schaffer.
“Depending on if we have fairly mild weather and if the contractor accomplishes what he wants to, his intent is to finish in the fall next year.”
Plum Contracting, Inc., of Greensburg, is the contractor.
“The contractor is going to try to get the Phase 2 stuff that we have dug out right now (on the Pizza Hut, Radisson side) paved, he wants to switch traffic over to the new pavement and start the Phase 3 excavation sometime mid-November on the Burger King side of the road. If we can switch over, it will probably continue all winter long. If not, we’ll probably wrap up things around Thanksgiving.”
It is a complicated project, not necessarily because of the length but because of the scope that also includes safety and intersection improvements, additional traffic and turning lanes, signal replacements, drainage upgrades, and other miscellaneous construction.
“There was significant stormwater work done on the first side and those catch basins you see sticking up are set at our new finish grade or slightly lower than for the new road.”
A major part of the project is the elimination of the hill on Route 68 near the Peebles UPMC building. Excavation has nearly been completed on the opposite side and paving of the road is expected soon.
‘The road is going down in elevation between 17 and 19 feet,” Shaffer said. “Excavation will then be started on the Burger King side, depending on the weather. When finally completed, the entire road will be lower, and the hill will be eliminated.”
The new railing in the middle of the road will not stay.
“Once we get switched over to Phase 3, that’s going to get replaced with a concrete barrier while we do the excavation. Once we get the road down to its finished level and paved, there will be two thru lanes and turning lanes through there.”
Shaffer said there are still plans to put in sidewalks on the Burger King side.
“The sidewalks probably won’t happen until we get into Phase 4 late next summer or early fall. They may go down to Dolby Street. There’s still another section of Route 68 that needs to be completed between the Clarion Curve finished a couple of years ago and this new area. I believe the sidewalk will eventually be connected from the mall clear into town.”
Although there have been some complaints about the signage and traffic patterns on Perkins Road, they are likely to stay in place.
“I know one of the big concerns is when you’re coming out of Perkin’s Road is the no right turn on red. I just talked to the traffic unit today about the possibility of getting that sign taken down. They’re kind of reluctant to do that right now, and that’s something I’m working on to take that down.”
Ninety percent of the costs of the project is being funded by the Federal government as part of the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). The Twelve-Year Program Plan is updated every two years.
Total Twelve Year Program Costs funded by the Federal government are estimated at $9,587,392.00 of the $11,681,819.73 Project Budget.
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