Crawford County Fair traffic will have to follow detours because the $7 million North Street corridor improvement project is behind schedule and it will soon shut down one of the busiest intersections in the county for a month or more.
On Monday, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Inspector Kent Turk said the intersection of Liberty and North streets will open later this week. Then work shifts to the intersection of North and North Main streets, which will be closed 30 to 45 days.
“You have to close it to reconstruct,” said Todd Dropik, Joseph McCormick Construction supervisor.
The North Street corridor has been under construction since May 2013 and was originally slated for completion this month. Now the work should be done in October.
The project is behind schedule primarily due to weather but also due to upgrading underground utilities. “You can’t pour concrete in the rain,” Turk said.
Turk said the company had hoped to get a jump on the construction season but it snowed every week in March. Rain this summer has also slowed the pace.
One option unavailable to Dropik is putting on more crews to get the work done faster. “There’s not enough room to throw more people at it from a safety standpoint,” he said.
The project will leave North Street in much better shape with new sanitary sewers, catch basins, curbs, signals and streetlights. The turning radius at many intersections will be greatly improved to accommodate the large truck traffic that frequently uses one of the county’s busiest roads.
PennDOT is the lead on the project because Route 27 begins at the intersection of North Street and Park Avenue. Route 27 continues on State Street to points east.
The City of Meadville has been able to piggyback on some of the project with the intersection at Market Street being completed by McCormick.
“We have a good rapport with McCormick and PennDOT ,” said Meadville Public Works Coordinator Jeanne Smith.
Mayor Christopher Soff noted the construction is behind but doesn’t want McCormick to rush or cut corners to hurry the process. Soff would like North Street to be done, but he wants it done right.
“We all collectively (the city, PennDOT and McCormick) wish we were further along,” Soff said, but “It will get done and it will be great when it’s finished.”
The North Street intersections at Market, Liberty, North Main Streets and Park Avenue will be made of poured concrete. The crosswalks will be pigmented concrete and stamped to have a brick appearance.
The Pennsylvania Sandwich Company and Cargo Cleaners have been at ground zero since the project began last year. One would think there would be a huge drop off in business but there hasn’t been.
“We’re well pleased with how it’s going,” said Alice Stevens, owner of Cargo Cleaners.
Pennsylvania Sandwich Company owner Mark Brode is feeling a pinch from the construction, which hasn’t helped his 16-month-old business. But Brode hasn’t been displeased with Dropik’s effort to keep shop owners informed of all changes.
“They keep me abreast of what’s going on,” Brode said. “ They’ve been kind and considerate.”
Dropik said he’s been going to each shop owner and telling them what’s going on and when. Dropik noted keeping all the businesses accessible has been a challenging, especially since some, like Cargo Cleaners, can be accessed only from North Street.
“The residents and businesses have all been extremely cooperative,” Dropik said. “I’m happy with the patience of the people of Meadville, they’ve been receptive to our needs,” he said.
Earl Corp can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.