Route 19 business owners see light at end of road
After two years of construction, business owners in the Route 19 corridor in the Wexford Flats area are breathing a sigh of relief as a major road construction project is wrapping up.
“I'm just looking forward to it (ending). Hopefully it will put a charge into everyone here,” said Harry Ruben, 63, owner of Mail & More on the highway in Pine. “We've had entrances and exits closed but once it's completed, hopefully people will come back to driving on 19.”
The five-lane, 2.33-mile configuration project opened on Wednesday morning after crews completed pavement markings. A northbound lane will remain closed in some areas as needed for work on sidewalks and paving as weather allows through the winter. Final work will be completed in the spring.
About 28,000 vehicles use the Wexford Flats section of Route 19 daily.
Jeff Bentz, PennDOT's project manager, said the traffic lanes will be opened for now but crews will eventually have to lay a top coat of asphalt and install curb islands, sidewalks and signs. Portions of the curbside northbound lane will remain closed for sidewalk work but the portion of the road near Route 910 will be open in all lanes.
“We're going to work until weather doesn't permit it,” Bentz said. “We've heard from businesses. They've been good about opening and closing driveways. Some folks have said there's been an impact on business. Others say it looks great and it will be great when it's done. I think it's good for the corridor.”
“I think it's wonderful. I'm ready for it to be finished,” said Ginny Crunick, owner of Fairbanks Wigs and Accessories on Route 19. “It's going to be better for sure. The turning lane is wonderful. It was like taking your life in your hands before.
“Customers said that it was a mess.”
Susan Balla, executive director of The Chamber of Commerce Inc., which serves the North Hills, said some businesses have been affected more than others.
“The businesses have been impacted dramatically,” Balla said. “They're very anxious for the opening of it and getting back to business as usual.”
Michael Dennehy, chairman of Pine supervisors, said traffic has been bad since the project began but is looking forward to getting back to normal.
“We're at the mercy of PennDOT and the weather,” Dennehy said. “It's been a nightmare. I do everything I can to stay away from it.”
The $18.1 million project started in early 2011 and widened Route 19 from 42 to 63 feet and added a center turning lane, curbed gutters and sidewalks. New traffic signals were also added at eight intersections between Longvue Road and North Chapel/Manor Road. PennDOT's prime contractor is Golden Triangle Construction Co. of Imperial.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.