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Work progressing downtown, but delays continue for now

August 4, 2011

Progress continues as work crews for Power Contracting are seen working at the South Jefferson Street intersection on the $1,112,458 traffic signal upgrade project which is scheduled for completion in December. The replacement project will include replacing and upgrading signals at four intersections, interconnecting the signals, addressing ADA requirements, and re-timing and re-phasing the signals for efficiency. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Progress continues on the downtown Punxsutawney Traffic signal upgrade project, according to Roger Steele, chairman of Public Works.

Steele, who spoke at Tuesday's meeting, said that traffic has been snarled during the day all week, with the installation of the new lights and poles yet to come.

Traffic will get worse before it gets better, he said, as crews continue to move forward with the upgrade.

Once the underground wiring is completed, the installation of the new traffic signals and light poles will begin, Steele said, adding that the project is not scheduled for completion until December.

PennDOT District 10 public information officer Deborah L. Casadei previously said the $1,112,458 project includes replacing and upgrading signals at four intersections, interconnecting the signals, addressing ADA requirements and re-timing and re-phasing the signals for efficiency.

Casadei said the curb cuts will require the latest ADA handicap safety ramps, which include the four intersections of Mahoning Street, Hampton, Jefferson, Findley and Gilpin streets.

ADA standards require that curb ramps include features called “detectable warnings,” she said, which consist of a series of small domes that contrast in color with the surrounding sidewalk or street.
They are intended to function much like stop signs for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision, she said.

The traffic signal upgrade at each intersection will include new signals, signal posts and mast arms, Cassadei said, adding that Hampton is currently the only intersection that has mast arms that support its traffic signals, while the traffic signals in the other intersections are supported by wires.

Punxsutawney Borough Council voted to have the mast arms painted black and the detectable warnings domes to be red in color; there are some exisitng detectable warnings that are yellow in color.

The intersections will be monitored via video to detect if there is a considerable amount of traffic on the side streets, she said.

The project includes new pedestrian signals installed at all of the intersections downtown and a new crosswalk installed across Hampton, from the Mahoning Towers to the East End bridge.

All of the crosswalks will be activated by a push button that pedestrians can use at their own convenience, and all of the new signals will have LED lights, Casadei said.

Steele said that motorists who take advantage of using alternate routes may avoid the many traffic delays.

In other business:
• Steele said the poles for the Torrence Street traffic signal project are expected to arrive within the next two weeks.

The work also includes sidewalk replacement, as part of the project.
• Steele said that oiling and chipping should begin within the next two weeks depending on the weather.

Since it's too hot to work on oiling and chipping, Public Works crews are trying to wait until the weather cools off before crews perform the hot and sticky process, Steele said.

• The Punxsutawney Area Community Center roof replacement has been put out to bid, and both council and the community center board are awaiting bid returns, Steele said, adding that the roof replacement has been restricted to just the work area.

"Council is hoping to get the bids in under the budget, so construction can get underway soon, with the completion expected for October," Steele said.

• Steele informed the committee that the sewer vactor truck is in need of some preventative maintenance and upgrades, so it may remain in service for a few more years and not have to be replaced with a newer model.

• Susan Glessner, committee member, said that the end of Cliff Street will also be oiled and chipped.

Glessner said the community center parking lot will also be oiled and chipped with the funds coming from the recreation fund.

Steele said that the community center has such a need for additional parking spaces that Rob McCoy, director, suggested that he would like to have the old basketball courts opened for additional parking.

Further discussion will take place at Monday's council meeting.

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