As it resumes its county roadwork projects, the state Department of Transportation is looking not only to improve roadways and bridges but keep them up to date.
"Our goal, obviously, is to make sure we have smooth pavements," said Eric High, assistant District 3 executive, during a recent editorial board at the Sun-Gazette.
Keeping drivers safe is the goal of the Montgomery Pike resurfacing and safety improvement project along Route 15, which has continued work this spring. The stretch of road being worked on is from the rest area on Bald Eagle Mountain to the Kwik Fill gas station near South Williamsport.
SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
With the advent of spring comes another season of road construction. The state Department of Transportation this year is focusing not just on improving highways and bridges but also keeping them safe and up to date. The aerial view here shows the beltway as it splits Routes 15 and 220 near Lycoming Creek. In upper right corner of photo is the DuBoistown Bridge, construction on which is expected to be completed in May.
The $10.7 million project will include installing center concrete median barriers, major embankment work, intersection improvements and resurfacing.
Travel delays and lane restrictions are expected during work, which should be completed by November.
Projects also will look to decrease the roughness of
county roadways, High said. He explained that PennDOT has a van that records the roughness of the roads.
High reported that less than 3 percent of the miles of high-volume roads - state roads and those with over 2,000 vehicles traveling on them daily - were poor in terms of roughness.
And while those with a lower volume of traffic are rougher, Sandra Tosca, district executive, said cooperative efforts, like one on Beaver Lake Road in Hughesville, will help. Kenneth Pochatko, senior highway maintenance manager, explained that with the help of a gas company, the road was able to be upgraded. About 32 percent of the district's roadway miles are poor.
Work also is set to be completed on another of PennDOT's projects in the coming months. The DuBoistown Bridge, commonly known as the Arch Street Bridge, which will be named Lance Cpl. Abram L. Howard Bridge, will be completed in May after paving takes place on each side of the bridge.
The replacement of the old DuBoistown, which was demolished earlier this year, means there are no more "structurally deficient" river bridges in the district.
"The remaining structurally deficient bridges we have are smaller," High reported.
T. Jay Cunningham, assistant district executive, explained that by being classified as structurally deficient, one or more of the three parts of a bridge - deck, superstructure or substructure - is in an "advanced state of deterioration."
But, Cunningham adds, "it doesn't mean they're unsafe" to drive on.
High explained that each bridge is inspected at least once every two years and those determined to be structurally deficient were repaired or replaced based on the amount of deterioration that has taken place.
He added that PennDOT hopes to not only fix those that need it but make sure they're not getting to the point of being structurally deficient.
"it's not only (repairing) bad bridges. It's about keeping good bridges good," High said.
PennDOT also is working on promoting the use of seatbelts with its "Just Buckle Up" campaign and working with state police to enforce aggressive driving.