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Road and Bridge Projects on Deck for Centre County in 2020

by on February 26, 2020 5:00 AM

It's almost spring, and that also means it's almost road work season in Centre County.

At Monday's Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum meeting, Tom Zilla, Centre Region Planning Agency principal transportation planner, provided an overview of state and local road and bridge projects that are expected to take place this year and that likely will have traffic impacts to varying degrees.

For most projects, start dates and duration are still to be determined.

Among the major access highways, the first phase of the Interstate 80/Interstate 99 interchange project will begin with construction of a new local access interchange between I-80 and Route 26/Jacksonville Road in Marion Township. Zilla said that work will begin this summer. 

"Most of that will be offline but if you travel Interstate 80 there will be some impacts along Interstate 80 as well," he said.

This phase of the project will create a new local access ramp two miles to the east of the current intersection along Jacksonville Road. For local drivers not on I-99, this will be the new access point to Interstate 80. PennDOT has previously said the local access interchange is expected to be completed by the end of 2021 and will be followed by work that will ultimately create a new high-speed interchange between I-80 and I-99, with overall completion expected in 2025.

Also on I-99, resurfacing of the Bellefonte bypass, approximately between the Route 550/Zion Road interchange at Exit 83 and Pleasant Gap at Exit 81, is expected to take place over the summer.

"That whole section will be reconstructed over the summer so I would expect we’ll have some issues from time to time when we have heavy loads of traffic coming in," Zilla said.

The Potters Mills Gap project is on track for major completion this year, with the four-lane section of Route 322 between Sand Mountain Road and Potters Mills expected to be open to traffic by the end of the year and final work completed in 2021. 

In the Centre Region, it's shaping up to be busier than usual.

"Within the Centre Region there’s actually a lot more locations this year than we’ve had probably in the last couple of years in terms of the numbers," Zilla said. "Most of these are relatively short-term projects that have minor traffic impacts."

Atherton Street — the bane of many local drivers for several years — will not see as much disruption as the past two construction seasons, but there will be some traffic impacts. 

While the major recent construction area between Aaron Drive and Curtin Road is mostly complete, crews will be working from after Penn State's commencement in May and into June around Curtin Road. This will include drainage work and repaving, as well as installation of underground steel utility casings across Atherton for future Penn State development. The latter will result in a full closure of Atherton between Curtin and Park Avenue for one weekend, which PennDOT previously projected would take place around May 15.

"All the work should be done in that section by the time we get to Arts Festival," Zilla said.

PennDOT plans for Atherton Street reconstruction to continue in phases, with the next phase extending from Curtin Road to Westerly Parkway. Zilla said that while the drainage and paving work associated with that won't begin until late 2021, some utility work is expected to begin this year.

"Probably Columbia Gas, possibly some of the communications agencies will be in there," Zilla said. "Even though the main work won’t be done until starting in late 2021, we may see utility work going on in that section this year."

Also in the Centre Region:

- The intersection of Fox Hill and Bernel roads near University Park Airport in Patton Township will be realigned. The intersection will be reconfigured as a "standard T," with a stop sign on the Bernel Road approach and dedicated left turn lanes on both roads. Patton Township received a long sought-after state grant last year to realign what Zilla called "the intersection everyone loves to hate."

- Preservation work will take place on the bridge that carries the Valley Vista Drive exit ramp from I-99 southbound toward Home Depot and North Atherton Street.

"The fact that it is one lane is going to make it mighty tight as they construct it," Zilla said. "It will remain open during construction except for maybe a short period of time when they may be doing some pavement treatments on it when the work is done."

- A small bridge at the intersection of East College Avenue and Puddintown Road in College Township will undergo rehabilitation work. Zilla noted this intersection is where Centre LifeLink EMS accesses College Avenue from its headquarters.

- East College Avenue in downtown State College will see sidewalk and utility improvements near Hiester Street.

- O'Bryan Lane — next to State College Area High School between Waupelani Drive and Westerly Parkway — will be reconstructed.

"That’s been on hold for awhile during the high school construction," Zilla said.

- A new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Blue Course Drive and Bristol Avenue in Ferguson Township. Blue Course will also be paved to the State College Borough line, Zilla said.

- A section of West Whitehall Road from Timothy Lane through Pennsylvania Furnace in Ferguson Township will be repaved.

Elsewhere in Centre County, Route 322 between Port Matilda Mountain and Philipsburg will be repaved and will result in traffic restrictions. A section of Route 45 between Harris Township and Old Fort also will be repaved.

Zilla urged drivers to remain alert and cautious in work zones for the safety of workers, first responders and other drivers.

"Please be conscious in work zones," Zilla said. "For all of us whether its frustration or distracted driving, which is becoming more and more prevalent today, it’s easy to not pay attention in the work zones and have something bad happen. Please pay attention to the rules and regulations."

Centre County Gazette's Vincent Corso contributed to this story.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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