Trees are beginning to bud, tulips and daffodils are displaying their red and yellow blooms, and orange construction cones and barrels are sprouting from Pennsylvania’s macadam. It’s road construction season in the Laurel Highlands.
Now that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is flush with funds, thanks to the passage of Act 89, the much-maligned gas tax increase, construction crews are busy lacing up their work boots and donning their hard hats and fluorescent green safety vests as they erect detour signs and warning cones across the region. Work is commencing on replacing deteriorating bridges and crumbling roadways.
“We’ll do repairs that will last for years to come,” Thomas Pretash, PennDOT District 9 executive, told reporter Kathy Mellott last month.
Major projects already underway in the region include the expansion of Route 219 between Somerset and Meyersdale, the widening of a section of Goucher Street in the West Hills section of Johnstown, and the replacement of the Hickory Street Bridge and rebuilding of retaining walls on Frankstown Road, both in downtown Johnstown.
And although it’s not highway work, the sewer replace project in Johnstown will affect many main arteries and side streets.
This will be a very frustrating time for motorists. Many drivers will have to add a few extra minutes of travel time to their commutes or even map out alternative routes to and from work. At times, motorists will have to realize that traffic will come to a complete standstill or crawl at a snail’s pace through construction zones.
If you don’t think you can cope with all the tie-ups, consider taking advantage of mass transit. The Cambria County Transit Authority has routes to just about anywhere in Johnstown and surrounding areas. Carpooling also is a great idea, and it would cut down greatly on congestion.
Every year, highway workers and motorists are hurt or, worse, killed in construction-zone accidents. That led to the passage of the Work Zone Safety Law. Regulations include:
-- All motorists must turn on their headlights when traveling in a posted work zone. The penalty for driv-ing without headlights is $25.
-- Anyone traveling 11 mph or faster in active work zones or who is involved in a crash will lose his or her license for 15 days.
-- Fines for speeding, driving while impaired and failure to obey traffic devices will be doubled in active work zones.
PennDOT offers the following tips for motorists maneuvering through construction areas:
-- Stay alert and avoid distractions such as using cellphones or adjusting radios.
-- Expect the unexpected. Watch our for workers and equipment.
-- Be prepared to stop.
-- Don’t tailgate.
If you’re planning your summer vacation travel route, you may want to check out www.511PA.com. It is a map of Pennsylvania that highlights active construction zones.
And be sure to pack plenty of patience.
On the Web
-- A listing of work zone safety tips is available at www.JustDrivePA.com.
-- An map listing active construction zones is available at www.511PA.com.