The annual state Department of Transportation open house provided insight for people attending about what goes on beyond the road and bridge projects.
With last year's flooding taking out bridges, it was a busy time for PennDOT.
In Sullivan County, floodwaters washed out a bridge on Route 2002 over Muncy Creek above Sonestown. A temporary bridge had to be constructed for the several residents who were landlocked, said Aaron B. Crist, senior civil engineer supervisor.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
From left, Brad Parrish, 19, of Muncy, and Nathan Reis, 17, son of Jerry and Denise Reis, of Muncy, listen as PennDOT Senior Civil Engineering Supervisor Christopher Neidig explains a material core sample during an open house and job fair at the PennDOT District III office on Jordan Ave. in Montoursville Thursday evening.
Bids were opened Thursday for a contract to construct a permanent bridge.
Work has already begun to reconstruct the Slabtown Bridge, which is expected to be opened for traffic around Thanksgiving.
The flooding did not slow PennDOT from working on other projects that were already in the works, said Bryan S. Miller, senior civil engineering supervisor.
There were "very few exceptions" to projects that were halted to work on flood damages.
"We switched some things," he said. "We (normally) do a lot of the work ourselves. We sent out for some consultants."
One project that was completed before the flooding showed how long the process to repair a bridge normally can take.
The Market Street Bridge, now known as the Carl E. Stotz Memorial Little League Bridge, took about a decade to plan and fund, with an additional four years for construction, said Christopher J. Neidig, senior civil engineer supervisor.
"We consider everything," he said, which includes listening to public concerns and answering their questions.
The bridge had severe deterioration in the beams.
In 2000, 513 bridges were structurally deficient in PennDOT District 3.0, which includes Lycoming, Tioga, Bradford, Sullivan, Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Montour and Columbia counties.
By the end of this year, the number is expected to fall to 203. By 2016, the number is expected to drop again to 165.
Funding was readily available in 2008, which helped increase the number of projects to be fixed, Crist said.
Some of those attending the open house also filled out job applications for winter help.
Computers were set up and employees were on hand to answer any questions about the process.
During inclement weather, PennDOT workers in the incident command center take countless phone calls about roads to be closed, Benjamin S. Yonkin, maintenance program engineer, said.
Within a week of the flooding, all of the damaged roads were inspected.
"It was a very impressive comeback," Yonkin said. "They came together tremendously."
PennDOT performs both short-term and long-term safety improvement projects, said William R. Houpt, assistant traffic engineer in the studies and safety section.
The short-term projects are designed and executed in a year and can include curve realignment or sight improvement projects.
The long-term projects are federally-funded and based on numbers of the fatalities and injuries in a location.
The Montgomery Pike safety improvement project currently is on its second of three contracts.
It took between two and three years to completely design the project, which included looking at utilities and hearing concerns at public meetings.
With new developments constantly ongoing throughout the district, PennDOT also measures if roads can handle traffic loads.
At an intersection north of Wellsboro, it was determined that just having a stop sign would back up traffic for up to 10 minutes by using a program that simulates the amounts of traffic on a road.
"It couldn't handle the traffic conditions," said Josephine Beaver, civil engineer in signals unit. "It needed a traffic signal."
The traffic signal allowed for traffic on both sides to pass safely and quickly.