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Roadwork delayed in Connellsville

| Friday, Sept. 2, 2005

Roadwork requiring a one-lane restriction at the Five Corners intersection in Connellsville is a month behind schedule, but may be complete by the end of this month.

In June, PennDOT approved the permit for work to begin in the southbound lane of the Route 119/201 intersection where Widewaters Development Group, of DeWitt, N.Y., is building a grocery store and strip mall.

Liberty Hill, the acting maintenance project engineer for PennDOT District 12, said the project consists of two main phases.

The first phase of the project was the closure of the southbound lane to widen the lane beginning in June and was scheduled to be complete by the end of July.

Currently, the southbound lane is still closed, and Hill said the contractors hired by Widewaters are scheduled to begin asphalt paving Friday and paint the lines on the roadway Tuesday.

"They did have some scheduling delays out there that got us to this point," Hill said.

A representative for Widewaters could not be reached for comment on the status of the project Thursday.

Hill said that late Tuesday or early Wednesday, the widening of the northbound lane will begin and is scheduled to take up to three weeks to complete.

"That, in a nutshell, is where we're at," Hill said.

Connellsville Mayor Judy Reed said she received plenty of complaints from residents who travel through what she said is the busiest intersection in Fayette County.

"People have been cutting through the city to avoid that and it has caused quite a mess," Reed said.

Reed added that there have been 17 traffic accidents in July on the roadway stretching from the Sheetz gas station to Advanced Auto Parts.

Even though the two main phases of the project were originally scheduled to be complete by mid-August before school was in session, James Lembo, the director of athletics and transportation for the Connellsville Area School District, said the construction has not caused them to reroute any buses.

"Very few buses drive that route," Lembo said. "It hasn't caused any problems."

No matter how long a one-lane roadway is present, motorists should still respect the safety of the road crews, said Jay Ofsanik, the safety press officer for PennDOT District 12.

A common mistake motorists make when driving up to a one-lane restriction is that they merge to the other lane as soon as they see the first sign, Ofsanik added, which could be up to a mile before the actual merge.

Merging too soon, Ofsanik said, causes backups and normally affects the intersections behind the merge point, resulting in people not being able to drive to their exits.

The best way to merge is to use as much of the available road as possible, take turns merging into the available lane, use rear-view mirrors and make sure the traffic is clear before merging.

Ofsanik added that motorists, when entering a work zone, are required to turn on their headlights. Drivers should expect changes within the work zone, prepare to stop, plan ahead, be patient and avoid tailgating.

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