By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Traffic was backed up for miles around Mill Street Thursday as the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority updated railroad guards and lights along Continental Boulevard and the Danville Middle School.
A pedestrian crossing by a nearby bridge will also be replaced. In addition, a concrete structure is being added to the railroad bed which will help prevent water from rising outside of the nearby levee.
Route 54 is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, said George Fury, property and maintenance of way manager for the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority.
Until then, traffic along Continental Boulevard from the intersection with Northumberland Street to the Danville-Riverside Bridge is being rerouted along Mill Street.
Brand new lights and gates will be installed at the Continental Boulevard crossing. “The existing ones are over 30 years old,” Fury said.
The pedestrian crossing is getting rail signals and a gate for the first time, Fury said, and the middle school entrance is getting new signals and gates.
A fence will also be set up along the tracks in front of the middle school, said Dan Knorr, a Danville borough administrator of governmental affairs.
The railroad crossing upgrades cover about $450,000 worth of improvements and come from a federal highway administration fund administered by PennDOT, Fury said.
The work on the track, to help prevent future flooding, is about $270,000 and comes from SEDA-COG.
SEDA-COG wanted to schedule the work while the borough had the levee closed for its current renovation, Knorr said.
The levee project is continuing on schedule, he said. Work is now continuing on Saturdays as well. A detour along Northumberland Street established for the levee renovation will continue through October but should be removed by the end of autumn, Knorr said.
“We’re certainly still on schedule and we know it’s a large inconvenience. We’re asking people be as patient as they can while we get this project done in the fall,” he said.