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College Avenue Construction on Schedule

by on June 10, 2014 7:20 AM

So far, the big construction project that's reduced traffic to one lane on College Avenue is going according to plan, despite some delays due to rain and unexpected underground complications.

Workers are replacing a century-old water line.

It's the latest in a long line of projects, which State College Borough Water Authority Executive Director John Lichman says has been on the authority’s radar for “a very long time.”

The water authority can’t “come in and totally rip up the town all up year after year,” Lichman says.

Instead, officials have to carefully plan important projects across several years that correspond with the borough’s community event-heavy schedule.

The authority would prefer to replace such lines within 60 to 80 years, but other major projects over the past few decades -- such as the construction of a filter plant during the 90’s — delayed the line’s replacement until now.

Lichman says that the project is working its way eastward down College Avenue, replacing segments of the line block by block so inconveniences for residents are kept to a minimum. After the line itself is installed down the length of the street, the authority will have to go back through block by block a second time to tie in water and fire service connections.

The work began at the intersection of College and Atherton. At last check, the construction has moved past Pugh Street.

“The problem of working without up to date prints is that we never know what we’re going to dig up,” Lichman said.

This includes things like stretches of rock, which require use of a rock breaker, and unmarked utility lines, which have to be be worked around — both of which the construction crew has encountered, though they haven’t slowed the project by any significant amount.

John Briggs, general manager of the Corner Room restaurant, says he was initially concerned that the project might impact business, especially given the fact that the summer months are slower.

However, Briggs says that they haven’t seen any noticeable drop in business, and that foot traffic combined with the nearby parking garages help offset any potential problems.

State Theatre Development Director Chris Rand says he was made aware of the project as far back as January, and that the authority has taken steps to keep everyone informed about the project’s construction schedule.

Rand says the construction schedule works out very well for the State Theatre. Local dance companies book a series of recitals annually during the second half of the summer, during which time the construction will be well past the theatre.

“We feel like we’ve been fully informed and kept in the loop the whole way with this project,” Rand says. “We don’t feel like we’ve been put out at all.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is a freelance reporter who frequently writes for the Centre County Gazette
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