PennDOT to begin work on Jefferson Avenue this spring

Katie Anderson

The state Department of Transportation plans to begin construction in April on the three-year Jefferson Avenue project, from Tyler Avenue to Henderson Avenue in Washington.

PennDOT plans to open bids on the project Feb. 27, according to Valerie Petersen, PennDOT’s community relations coordinator.

Project manager Sean Sepe said the project will cost between $7 million and $12 million. The first year of construction, he said, will include utility work, the construction required at the intersection with Wylie Avenue, base road repair on Jefferson between Wylie and Henderson, and the widening of Jefferson to allow for a right turn lane to the on-ramp for Interstate 70 eastbound.

“Year two will include the section from Tyler Avenue to Wylie Avenue, which will be a full-depth reconstruction of Route 18 (Jefferson Avenue),” he said.

The third year will be the full-depth reconstruction of Wylie Avenue, from the Jefferson intersection to the overpass near GetGo, Sepe said. The deteriorated concrete on Wylie will be replaced with asphalt, he said. This phase will also include widening the I-70 exit ramp onto Wylie, allowing for a right turn lane.

“All of these phases will have signal work,” he said.

The three existing traffic lights within the scope of the project will be replaced, and two new ones will be placed at the I-70 ramps, on Wylie and Jefferson.

Petersen said in an email that the project will also include new sidewalks, installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps, upgrades to drainage, and signing and pavement markings.

City Councilman Ken Westcott said while the construction project will make an already congested traffic area worse over the next three years, the outcome will be worth the wait.

“After a while, folks will find a way around this,” he said. “There’s always going to be a constant flow of traffic on Jefferson. There’s always going to be one lane of traffic – they’ll work one lane, then the other lane.”

Westcott said the city already has discussed with PennDOT the necessity of keeping heavy trucks from using Allison Avenue as a detour once construction begins.

“Allison Avenue could be an alternate route for cars, but the goal is to keep the trucks out,” he said. “The street is too narrow, and it’s just not built for that.”

The city’s computer systems coordinator, Lynn Galluze, said the city is planning improvements to the streetlights in that area and improvements to the stormwater system, including work that’s being done on Allison Avenue.

“We’re working very closely with PennDOT on this project, but we’re not going to get in their way,” she said.

Galluze said the majority of the project will be federally funded with some coverage through state grants. Locally, the city will use $142,250 from the city’s stormwater funds as a local match, she said.