When pavement is finally broken and work begins on Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s long-awaited $10 million North Street Improvement Project, approximately a year and a half is expected to pass before one of Meadville’s busiest thoroughfares is no longer a construction zone.
The project will upgrade North Street — the heavily-traveled corridor forming the northern boundary of the city’s business district — from its starting point at Water Street to slightly beyond its State Street intersection. Work includes intersection improvements, roadway reconstruction, traffic signal upgrades and drainage improvements.
On April 11, the public is invited to attend a meeting hosted by PennDOT and the project’s general contractor, Joseph McCormick Construction Co. Inc. of Erie.
According to organizers, the purpose of the meeting is to present the public with information concerning the project construction schedule as well as traffic control and accessibility during construction.
Representatives from PennDOT, McCormick and the City of Meadville will be on hand from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Economic Progress Alliance Conference Center, 764 Bessemer St., Meadville.
As the project gets under way, plans call for a website to be established by the general contractor where information about the construction schedule and anticipated detours will be posted on a weekly basis.
Since preliminary plans indicating that traffic would continue to move in one direction along North Street for the duration of construction were first unveiled in December 2011, things have changed substantially.
Joe Hosey, McCormick’s vice president of estimating and project management, outlined the current state of the project to the Tribune following a Thursday morning utilities coordination meeting.
The first phase, which is officially included in the PennDOT project but is being funded by Meadville Area Sewer Authority, has been subcontracted to Ray Showman Jr. Excavating Inc. of Waterford.
MASA’s 12-inch diameter, 2-foot long sections of clay tile dating back to 1893-1896 will be replaced with an 18-inch plastic line and plastic laterals running from sewer line to curb line. Because original tile lies 10 to 12 feet deep and runs directly below the center of the roadway, the street must be completely closed to traffic during replacement.
Digging is expected to begin in late April or early May.
“Once we finish one block, we’ll patch back the road so you can drive on it,” Hosey explained. “Then we’ll build the next block.”
Sometime in July, all the sewer lines should be connected and tested and the road patched, Hosey continued. “At that point, we’ll go back to Water Street and begin the process again.”
Although Meadville Area Water Authority replaced its aging water main and laterals several years ago in anticipation of the project, the location of several hydrants along North Street changed as PennDOT’s plans evolved. “MAWA will play follow the leader on us,” MASA’s executive director, Frank Duda, said Thursday. “If they can move the hydrants while each block is closed, they’ll probably do it.”
MAWA Project Manager Don Nold indicated Thursday that every effort will be made to do just that.
As winter approaches, roadway work is expected to wind down in October, although work may be able to continue a bit longer on electrical projects and traffic signals. At some point, they’ll stop for the winter shutdown and resume, if weather allows, in mid-March 2014.
“As of now, the contract end date is July 2014,” Hosey said. “It will probably change.”
Before the digging begins, however, some work has already begun along the sides of the roadway. New utility poles, for example, are being installed along the corridor; until all the wires and cables have been moved, drivers along North Street shouldn’t doubt their eyesight if they spot double poles.
One structure, the two-story office building on the northwest corner of North and North Main streets which must be demolished to accommodate the wider turning ratio that will make it easier for trucks to navigate turns along the corridor, is expected to be taken down during the next three to four weeks, according to Hosey.
At the former gas station on the northeast corner of North and Liberty streets, the overhead canopy and some underground tanks will be removed to accommodate the wider turning ratio and other cleanup work will take place, Hosey said.