Motorists to use new traffic signals in March at latest

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Work continues on the downtown traffic signal replacement project, but the new traffic signals will not be placed into service until the beginning of March.

Motorists who travel through downtown Punxsutawney will notice that the new traffic light poles and mast arms are being installed throughout Mahoning Street in downtown Punxsutawney by Power Contracting, Kirby Starr, PennDOT project inspector, said.

"These new poles are black painted on galvanized poles; our normal traffic signal poles are not painted they are galvanized," Starr said, adding that Punxsy Borough Council had requested black poles.

"That's why the traffic signal poles for the Torrence Street project were held up, because it originally had just galvanized poles," he said. "That's why that project required a time extension so we could get those poles painted to match."

Starr said the contractor will continue to install poles, mast arms, the new traffic signals and control cabinets throughout the winter as weather permits.

"As the weather deteriorates, you'll see less work being done," Starr said.

There might be a point where the work might be halted for a month to two months until the weather begins to improve, he said.

"The signals will not be placed in operation before winter. It is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of spring," he said. "We've given the contractor an extension until May 15 in order to complete the paving, but the signals should be activated in late February or early March."

The new concrete curb ramps for the initial project have been completed as of this week, Starr said. No matter what the weather conditions are, concrete can be poured anytime of the year; however, the contractor has to take precautions against the cold.

Heated water must be used in pouring the concrete, and heaters are used to keep it warm while it's curing, he said.

Starr said the subcontractor, M&B Services Concrete Construction of Clarion, has been covering the concrete that was poured for the curb cuts and sidewalks in downtown with heated blankets.

M&B has been opening the new section of sidewalk the next day to pedestrian traffic, he said. The sidewalk that was poured at the intersection of Front Street and East Mahoning Street was poured Friday and opened to pedestrian traffic Monday.

Starr said the concrete pour on Front Street was the last one for this year.

There are six more locations where workers will pour curb ramps in the spring, Starr said, adding that these are in addition to the original project.

Starr said those areas include the curb ramp located adjacent to the alley that runs by McDonald's and the old Hunger building; the alley across the street by the Pantall building; and the two curb ramps from Barclay Square to the Eagles on East Mahoning Street.

These are extra curb ramps that have been added into the project because PennDOT is milling and paving the entire project area along Mahoning Street from just west of the intersection with Gilpin Street to the East End bridge, a small portion of Hampton Avenue; and the entrance to the side streets throughout the project area, Starr said.

In addition, there will be some new overhead sign structures that will replace the current overhead signs that are hung on wires across the road, and crosswalks will be painted with the hash marks included, he said.

There's new signage that will be installed throughout the entire project, Starr said, adding that the signal controller cabinets will also be installed soon, with the master control cabinet to be located on North Gilpin Street.

Starr said the original cost of the project was $1,112,458, and it will be an upgrade from the current system.

"The pedestrian crosswalk areas will have an audible warning system that will count down the time left to cross the street with push buttons at every corner," Starr said, but he is not sure if the audible message will be muted during certain hours of the night.

Starr said the old traffic signals will remain in operation until the new lights are activated next spring.