Details emerge about SR 255 project

ST. MARYS – PennDOT's Dean Ball updated city officials on Monday evening regarding the proposed timelines of the massive road reconstruction project taking place next year along State Route 255, encompassing a large section of the Million Dollar Highway.Currently the project is on schedule and will be advertised this fall with hopes the contractor will begin by late fall. Also progressing smoothly are right-of-way acquisitions which will be ready for the advertisement of the project."We are still working with the St. Marys Water Authority and the Sewer Authority on cost-sharing agreements so they can upgrade the water and sewer as part of the project. There is no update available as officials are working on it right now. We are hoping to have this information updated in April," Ball said.Full construction is anticipated to begin in March 2013, Building demolitions and utility work will be among the initial work taking place prior to March. The completion date is set for July 2014.The first phase of the project will run south from Wendy's to Dairy Queen and the second phase running from Dairy Queen to Rock Alley, which is situated as part of the bottom portion of the South St. Marys Street Elementary School's parking lot.Road crews will work on half of the road at a time through the residential area. "It's gong to be tight through there. We're going to ask everyone for their patience as we're working through there," Ball said. "Heading north there is an alley on the right side that will help for those people to park, but on the left side a lot of the houses don't have alleys behind them. We'll have to work to keep them [having] access to their houses."Ball emphasized that most of the paving will be done in the evening, something PennDOT is writing in the contract.The first two phases are expected to last three to four months, but all work is weather-dependent. The third phase of the project is the SR 120/255 intersection, running along State Street and South St. Marys Street. This will include a detour of SR 120, which will be closed from South St. Marys Street to Rock Street."We feel if we detour the construction for that part of the street, it should only last three to four weeks versus three to four months if we do it one lane at a time," Ball said.During the first- and second-phase detours, Ball said PennDOT believes they can work on the road half-width by tearing it out in the evening, flagging it and having it open for traffic the next day.The first detour will be on W. Arch Street, which may only be accessed by Rock Alley onto Rock Street or from SR 120."These side street detours, weather-dependent, shouldn't be more than three weeks," Ball said.According to Ball, W. Arch Street is the most significant detour because of the realignment of the road connecting East Arch to West Arch. The second detour will be Rock Alley. By then Arch Street will be completed and drivers will be able to access the back side of Rock Alley using Rock Street. The third detour is East Arch Street. PennDOT will have signs directing drivers to use Vine Street and Race Street. Then there will be a detour from Vine to Arch streets back to access Chestnut Street."There's a lot of accesses for local traffic. There's no way for trucks to get through to your local streets and that's why we're signing all the through traffic to the detour," Ball said.As for the SR 120 detour, signs will be placed traveling from Emporium into St. Marys directing all traffic to Johnsonburg, up SR 255 to SR 219, to SR 219 back to Ridgway and then drivers can access SR 120 from Ridgway. Signs in Johnsonburg will direct traffic to Ridgway.Additional signs will be placed in Penfield notifying trucks they should not travel SR 255 north and in Ridgway notifying trucks traveling north on SR 120 the intersection will be closed at the SR 255 intersection. A message board will also be placed somewhere along Interstate 80."This way trucks that are going to Keystone Powdered Metal Co. can still access the area using 120 going east toward St. Marys," Ball said.This detour is expected to last 3 to 4 weeks. Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, March 7, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.