College Avenue Construction: What You Need to Know
A major construction project may slow traffic one of State College's busiest streets through most of the summer.
Work crews will be replacing a 100-year old water line on College Avenue between Heister Street and Atherton Street starting Monday, May 12.
At no time is College Avenue expected to be completely closed down and it is expected that construction will be done by mid-August.
Construction is expected to take place from Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The schedule is subject to change based on factors like weather. However, State College Borough Water Authority Executive Director John Lichman says the goal is to get the job done as quickly as possible.
The Water Authority has had many meetings with the Downtown State College Improvement District and the Borough of State College, Lichman says, to discuss dates when construction cannot take place. These dates include: Memorial Day (May 26), July 3 and 4, Arts Festival (July 10-13) and student move-in weekend at the end of August.
How to safely excavate and keep the existing line in place is something the Water Authority has been asking themselves, Lichman says. The current plan is to limit construction to one block at a time. Traffic will be funneled in and out of that block, he said, but lane closure won’t be determined until construction actually starts. At times, all lanes of College Avenue might be functioning. At others, it might be down to one lane.
State College Borough Parking Manager Charles DeBow says that parking on College Avenue will not be greatly affected.
“The way construction is planned out,” he says, “we will loose a minimal amount of parking.” At any given time, a maximum of two blocks of parking will be down, which only factors to about 15 to 20 spaces."
“It will not have a major impact,” DeBow says. “We’re not too worried about congestion.”
He also stressed that there is plenty of available parking in the garages throughout the entire construction period. Those who park downtown for only a short period of time can do so in any of the parking garages, which is free for the first 30 minutes, DeBow says.
Work to replace the water lines from Atherton Street to Corl Street and on Beaver Avenue has already taken place, he said. Replacing the line from Heister Street to Atherton Street is the last part of the loop.
“It has exceeded its useful life,” Lichman says of the 3,000 feet of line that will be replaced. At this point, he said it makes more sense to replace the entire line instead of chunks at a time in order to keep the area sustainable and save money.
There are no plans or prints from when the line was originally put in, Lichman says, so it us unclear what will be found while digging it up.
“There’s a lot of unknowns,” he says. “We have to work with what’s there.” It is estimated that the current line is either four or six inches wide, which is too small, he said. The entire structure will be replaced with a new 12-inch-wide line.
“It’s all about fire protection,” Lichman says. By putting in a wider line, there’s a better chance that more water will be available in the event of a fire, he said. It isn’t a guarantee, but increases the probability. “More water is better.”
“We will do the best possible job, install the new line safely and allow traffic to get by,” Lichman says. “We do not want to go into football season. We want to work with the community.”