The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 1, 2012

Motorists get runaround: As bridge work wraps, Brownstown project begins

Randy Griffith

— Local motorists can’t seem to get a break.

On the day the Fourth Avenue bridge to Minersville reopened to vehicles in Cambria City, the main route through Brownstown was closed.

Motorists trying to get into, or out of, Brownstown on Thursday encountered “road closed” signs on Gilbert Street as the long-awaited $4.6 million sanitary sewer replacement project commenced in earnest.

All access into the borough is now through Westmont, along Bucknell Avenue and Wyoming Street. That’s at least a four-mile detour from Broad Street

The most-likely alternate routes are through the West End and up D Street to Goucher Street and Menoher Boulevard, or through downtown Johnstown and up Menoher or Millcreek Road.

There was discussion of a posted detour, Brownstown Borough Council President Nancy Geyer said.

“It would be up to the contractor to place the signs,” she said.

Project manager Ken Cooper of Zelienople-based Sippel Development said all local residents were notified directly and signs were posted weeks in advance, warning of the closure. There were also notifications published in The Tribune-Democrat, and a Page A1 article and photo in the Oct. 25 editions.

School districts, taxis and CamTran were directly notified.

“There is not exactly any place to detour them to,” Cooper said.

The lower end of Gilbert is closed during work hours, about 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, said Dan Carbaugh of project engineers Keller Engineering in Hollidaysburg.

“The goal is to get this section done before winter sets in,” Carbaugh said, noting it is just the beginning of a long series of projects replacing all of the borough’s sanitary sewers.

Because Gilbert Street is not a state road, there is no requirement for a posted detour, Carbaugh added.

“That would be a lot of road signs,” he said.

Most borough residents seem to be taking the disruption in stride, Carbaugh said.

“The people who are highly impacted are the people short-cutting from Westmont into Johnstown,” Carbaugh said.

Meanwhile, the construction work that shut down Franklin Street near Hickory Street was expected to be completed by this morning.

Repairs were needed there after the discovery of a water line leak underneath the road.

“It could have been worse than it was,” said Greater Johnstown Water Authority Chairman Edward Cernic Sr. “We were fortunate nobody was hurt.”

Earlier this week, the Fourth Avenue Bridge, which connects Cambria City and Minersville, was opened to vehicular traffic after months of repair work.

The sidewalk repairs are not yet completed. Shuttle service will remain in effect for pedestrians, PennDOT spokeswoman Tara Callahan-Henry said.  

PennDOT reported construction of the Edward A. Silk Memorial Bridge on Napoleon Street in downtown Johnstown should be done by Thanksgiving.

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