The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 17, 2013

Route 56 closing planned: Seward bridge work will require detour

JOHNSTOWN — Motorists who use heavily traveled Route 56 between Johnstown and Route 22 will have to use Route 403 instead starting Monday.

That’s because a $6.24 million project to replace the bridge that carries Route 56 over the Norfolk Southern Corp. railroad track and 10th Street at the border of Seward and St. Clair Township is scheduled to begin.

The structurally deficient bridge was built in 1930 and carries about 5,239 vehicles per day, said Deborah L. Casadei, a spokeswoman for PennDOT District 10.

The bridge will be replaced on the existing alignment, but the height will be increased by about three feet, she said. The length of the span also will be reduced.

Tenth Street will be relocated to tie directly into Route 56, she said.

The project’s work zone will stretch from Sixth Street to Washington Street, she said.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Monday, the roadway will be closed from Route 711 to Sixth Street.

The intersection with Route 711 will remain open to traffic, but may be reduced to one lane and controlled by a temporary traffic signal for portions of the project, she said.

The posted detour will be Route 56 to Route 22 East to Route 403 South to Route 56, and Route 56 to Route 403 North to Route 22 West to Route 56.

Local residents will be able to find alternate ways to get around town, she said.

Fran Hajjar, a Seward Borough Council member, said residents will not like the inconvenience, but hopefully the project will make it better for them in the long run.

John Muchesko, president of M&C Trucking Co. of Seward said PennDOT has to do something because the existing bridge is deficient.

“It’s going to be a terrible inconvenience for us while construction is going on. However, once it’s done, there will be some safety improvements and it will be worthwhile,” he said.

Muchesko hopes that the contractor has good weather so that workers can keep to their schedule. The project is a sizable one that PennDOT is expecting to have completed in October, he said.

Jon A. Meese, owner of Jon A. Meese Funeral Home of Seward, said that he will remain open during construction to serve families who have lost a loved one.

The contractor for the project is New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. Inc., of New Enterprise.

Casadei is reminding motorists to be alert to changing conditions and to pay attention to flaggers in the work zone.

She also is reminding motorists to drive responsibly for their safety and the safety of the workers.

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