Valley residents set their clocks ahead last night or early this morning for Daylight Saving Time.
Springing ahead can conjure images of warm weather, beach vacations, camping, hiking and summer road trips.
For many Valley drivers, it also means images of road work ahead signs.
Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation (CSVT)Project construction was a “major annoyance for Watsontown Trucking Company trucks,” said company President Steve Patton, on Friday afternoon. “We had to use Route 15 to get to Route 45 and go through Lewisburg using Market Street. We didn’t like having to do it, and I’m sure businesses on Market didn’t like it either.”
The Thruway is one of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s biggest projects in the Valley.
Work on the $885 million CSVT — under construction since January 2016 — is expected to ramp up in April with a full crew of employees from the Trumbull Corporation of Pittsburgh, the lead contractor of the project, said Ted Deptula, assistant construction engineer, PennDOT.
Right now, work is concentrated on the Northern Section — which will connect state Route 147 south of Montandon to U.S. Route 15 south of Winfield — and the bridge over the Susquehanna River’s West Branch.
The southern section is the second part of the project. It will connect U.S. 15 south of Winfield to U.S. 11/15 north of Selinsgrove and will include a connector from the new highway to state Route 61, Veterans Memorial Bridge.
“We’ve long supported the CVST project because it benefits the entire region and are pleased to see the daily progress,” said Dennis Curtin, director of public relations, Weis Markets.
“Our Milton distribution center supplies a significant number of our stores south of the Central Susquehanna Valley,” he said. “The CVST will help us improve the efficiency of our deliveries and will help us significantly improve our truck diesel mileage. As part of our sustainability program, we’ve made some big improvements to our truck fleet which has helped us improve how we operate and reduce our diesel fuel usage. The CVST will help us build on our progress.”
When the CSVT is finally done, added WTC’s Patton, “we will benefit in a big way. Drivers are paid by the time they work and having all the detours added up to, we figure, an extra 20 minutes on trips from Harrisburg to our center in Milton. Saving that 20 minutes will save us hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in labor savings.”
The northern section is expected to be completed and opened to traffic in 2022, said PennDOT assistant plans engineer Mathew Beck.
According to Trumbull, the mild winter has helped to allow the work to stay on schedule. The average crew size during the winter was about 35 people, the smallest workforce they have had during any winter so far on this project, Trumbull said.
Currently, the crew numbers plus-or-minus 45 people, a company spokesman said.
A much larger workforce is expected to resume in April, Deptula said, “and continue work throughout the summer.”
Each bridge is broken up into three 1,515-foot units for a total length of 4,545 feet, Deptula said. The deck, or driving surface, for the first unit of the bridge on the Union County side was constructed last fall.
Over the winter, the contractor constructed concrete bridge barriers on the first unit, he said. They also began preparing Units 2 and 3 for concrete placement in the deck that will occur this spring and summer.
“The contractor is preparing to construct the bridge deck in the spring and summer,” Deptula said. “They are forming the bottom of the deck and tying rebar. When the weather gets warmer, they can construct the concrete deck.”
The remaining work for the bridge is very weather sensitive, so a little bit of preparation was done this winter, but a lot of the finished work cannot be done until the weather is better.
PennDOT restricted the contractor from placing deck concrete between Nov 1 and March 31 to minimize the possibility of freezing temperatures while curing the concrete, Deptula said.
“Right now, Trumbull Corporation is continuing to prepare Units 2 and 3 for placement of concrete in the deck that will take place this spring and summer,” Deptula said.
“This summer, Trumbull Corporation will construct the remainder of the bridge, including the concrete deck in Units 2 and 3 and the concrete barriers,” Deptula said.
The contractor for the northern section CSVT paving project, New Enterprise Stone and Lime Company Inc., will continue constructing the pavement from Ridge Road to the north end of the project.
Once the Northern Section opens, PennDOT believes communities in the surrounding area, such as Northumberland and Lewisburg boroughs, will begin to benefit from improved safety and reduced congestion.