A nearly $2.5 million PennDOT project designed to make a busy intersection safer is all but complete.
At least seven years in the making, the federally funded state Department of Transportation project completely redesigned the intersection of Kennedy Drive and Main Street, including widening Kennedy Drive and installing traffic lights, a new turning lane and two concrete islands. The project aimed to reduce the risk of crashes at the intersection.
Kennedy Drive and the affected portion of Main Street are state roads, so the project fell under PennDOT’s jurisdiction.
PennDOT planned to complete the project by the end of 2017, but moving a UGI Utilities gas line held things up, said PennDOT assistant construction manager Carla Medura.
Late last summer, PennDOT learned a gas line was closer to the surface than expected, and digging up the road would have exposed the line, she said. By the time they had a plan in place to lower the line, it was already winter, so they had to wait until the spring to move it, Medura said.
Encountering gas lines during roadwork projects, especially those involving road widening, is “a pretty common occurrence,” UGI spokesman Joe Swope said.
The project was put out to bid in July of 2016, and crews were able to begin construction in August of that year, Medura said.
PennDOT initially held a public meeting with borough residents about the project in February of 2011.
The previous intersection had a triangular island at its center, requiring drivers to yield to motorists coming from multiple directions. The intersection increased the risk for crashes, Medura said.
“You had people that were just pulling out from all locations onto Kennedy Drive,” she said, explaining that the concrete islands control travel onto the road and nearby parking lots. “You’re basically controlling that so everybody is entering and exiting at particular points.”
Located at Kennedy Drive and Main Street, the Quinn’s Sunoco Express gas station and convenience store was right in the middle of the project.
The roadwork had a negative effect on the business while crews worked directly in front, manager Joe Motts said.
“We just had to grin and bear it,” he said. “Some days they didn’t really leave us with much access at all.”
Motts noted the project is supposed to be safer and looks nicer than the previous intersection, but he said the paving caused water issues for the convenience store and other nearby businesses.
“Every time we have a heavy rain, we have a lake out there,” Motts said, gesturing toward the store’s gas pumps. “We get a pretty good puddle right in front.”
PennDOT is monitoring the water situation, Medura said, noting surveyors visited the intersection and are making sure water is being properly channeled, she said.
“If something needs to be tweaked, we’ll make adjustments and corrections,” she said.
The new traffic lights, which were only blinking, will be fully activated soon, PennDOT spokesman Michael Taluto said.
Crews have also finished paving the intersection.
“We’re well on our way to being completed,” Medura said.