11/16 intersection work to last until fall

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Sheetz lost a little bit of land to make way for a right turn lane from West Baltimore Street onto U.S. 11 North. Crews are putting up a new sign on its property.

Motorists cannot avoid interruptions at U.S. 11 and Route 16 these days. Work on the improvements to the intersection is in full swing. PennDOT is adding three right turn lanes, but it cannot do that until preliminary work is completed.

Century Link and Allegheny Power are moving their telephone and electric poles out of the way, and PennDOT is installing temporary new signal lights. Valley Quarries was contracted to oversee the project, with the end date set for Nov. 18.

Last week the foundations for the signal poles were poured.

"They are 12 feet deep and 42 inches in diameter," said Alan High, Franklin County Construction Inspection Manager for PennDOT. "Those are some massive pieces of concrete."

Mark Appleby from Valley Quarries said everything was going according to plan. The company was awarded a $1.4 million contract to do the work on drainage, inlets and curbs, roadway widening and reconstruction, resurfacing, sign installation, traffic signal upgrades and new traffic lines.

Across the street, private contractors add to the bustle. Sheetz took down its tower sign and air compressor in November to make room for the turn lane. It is now replacing the sign farther inside its property.

The next step for PennDOT is to saw-cut across Route 16 to lay drainage pipes. That will cause traffic backup, said High.

He added, "People should know it has to be worse before it gets better."

The upgrades to the congested intersection were targeted by PennDOT for safety issues and because the money was available, said PennDOT media contact Mike Crochunis last fall. He was optimistic that with good weather, the project could be finished earlier than the deadline. Paving could be done at night to relieve motorists of interruptions. Flagmen are on the scene as needed to direct traffic for the entire project.

The Borough of Greencastle obtained the rights-of-way needed for the improvements. In 2009 it also paid $250,000 for preliminary and final engineering design and construction consultation.  Mountain View Reclamation also made a contribution to that expense.