I-95 Cottman work should be done in 2016

Tired of on­go­ing I-95 con­struc­tion? Get used to it.

Get used to it: The $212.3 mil­lion pro­ject is in Stage Three of a six-stage pro­cess. WIL­LI­AM KENNY / TIMES PHOTO

Of­fi­cials from the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Trans­port­a­tion have two mes­sages for mo­tor­ists who are get­ting tired of deal­ing with the on­go­ing con­struc­tion at In­ter­state 95’s Cottman Av­en­ue in­ter­change.

It’s not that bad, and you might as well get used to it.

The $212.3 mil­lion pro­ject — which is the largest single con­struc­tion con­tract in PennDOT’s his­tory — is in Stage Three of a six-stage pro­cess. Work is ex­pec­ted to con­tin­ue for at least three more years with a pro­jec­ted com­ple­tion date in mid-2016.

“I’ve driv­en through the [traffic] pat­tern. It doesn’t take you that long to get through it,” said Har­old Windisch, the seni­or as­sist­ant con­struc­tion en­gin­eer for PennDOT’s Dis­trict 6-0, which cov­ers the five-county Phil­adelphia re­gion. “But the lanes are nar­row­er and the speed lim­it is slower.”

“People have to be pa­tient go­ing through the work zone,” ad­ded Manny Ana­stas­i­adis, an as­sist­ant traffic en­gin­eer for the dis­trict.

The work zone spans about 1.4 miles of the high­way from just south of the Academy Road in­ter­change to about 1,000 feet south of Levick Street. Walsh Con­struc­tion of Can­ons­burg is the gen­er­al con­tract­or. Work crews will re­pave the high­way and re­build sev­en “main­line” bridges, as well as a south­bound on-ramp from Cottman Av­en­ue.

Work will also in­clude the in­stall­a­tion of re­tain­ing walls along the high­way and new wa­ter and sew­er mains along Wissi­nom­ing Street. New State road will be re­paved and Prin­ceton Av­en­ue ex­ten­ded east­ward to­ward the Delaware River. Im­prove­ments will be made to the south­bound on-ramp at Bleigh Av­en­ue and to the “in­tel­li­gent trans­port­a­tion sys­tem” (ITS) in the area, which fea­tures cam­er­as and di­git­al signs.

To keep traffic mov­ing, crews have been work­ing on one-third of the eight-lane high­way at a time, with the oth­er two-thirds open to traffic. At the mo­ment, crews are work­ing on the south­bound side of the high­way, with south­bound mo­tor­ists routed through the me­di­an.

Us­ing this meth­od, PennDOT plans to keep three lanes open in each dir­ec­tion at all times dur­ing the day­time and early even­ing hours, not­with­stand­ing emer­gen­cies. The high­way typ­ic­ally handles 118,000 vehicles per day, with traffic heav­ier on week­days. Traffic is typ­ic­ally light­er in the sum­mer be­cause schools are out of ses­sion and many mo­tor­ists leave town on va­ca­tion.

The pro­ject has im­pacted and will con­tin­ue to im­pact city streets in the area of the con­struc­tion zone. Routes that have been closed par­tially or fully in­clude Mil­nor Street, State Road and New State Road.

Also, the south­bound I-95 exit ramp at Bleigh Av­en­ue is closed. The of­fi­cial de­tour calls for mo­tor­ists to exit at Academy Road and take Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue south to Cottman Av­en­ue. However, many mo­tor­ists have found dif­fer­ent routes. Some are tak­ing State Road from Bucks County south­bound through the work area. Neigh­bors in East Tor­res­dale have com­plained to the Phil­adelphia De­part­ment of Streets.

“It wasn’t part of the ori­gin­al [traffic] study. [But] we’re aware of it. The city has reached out  to us,” Windisch said.

PennDOT hopes to for­mu­late a plan to mit­ig­ate the State Road traffic be­fore the end of the sum­mer.

Busi­nesses that op­er­ate throughout the area are also very con­cerned about high­way con­struc­tion pro­gress. On June 26, the Great­er North­east Cham­ber of Com­merce hos­ted a meet­ing with PennDOT of­fi­cials at Frank­lin Mills.

Cham­ber mem­bers “wanted to know what the length of time would be” for the work, said Al Tauben­ber­ger, the Cham­ber pres­id­ent. “It’s go­ing to be long-term, but people are will­ing to sac­ri­fice that for per­man­ent im­prove­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to Windisch, PennDOT con­stantly mon­it­ors traffic flow on the high­way through a sys­tem of cam­er­as. The pub­lic can ac­cess live video from the cam­er­as, too, via the 511PA.com Web site. Con­struc­tion in­form­a­tion is avail­able at 95re­vive.com. Mo­tor­ists may use the lat­ter site to sign up for e-mail and text mes­sage alerts about traffic-re­lated is­sues. •• 

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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