Potters Mills Gap Project in Centre Co. draws closer to completion; final set of expected traffic delays to last 2 days

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POTTER TOWNSHIP, CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– WTAJ has new details on the Potters Mills Gap project in southeastern Centre County. It’s a project that looks to create more lanes for traffic on Route 322 through the Seven Mountains area–aiming to improve safety for drivers.

Tuesday, WTAJ spoke with Penn-DOT and local drivers to learn more about the current status of the project.

Right now, Penn-DOT reports that work on the project is 60% complete. One of the two walls needed for elevated roadways is finished.

“The first wall is about 30 feet higher than the elevation of the local access road. The wall will separate the two roads,” said John Wert, Project Manager from Glen O. Hawbaker.

The project aims to create two lanes for traffic heading eastbound, and two lanes for traffic heading west through the gap in the mountains. For a portion of the project, the eastbound lanes will be on one tier, with the westbound lanes on another tier. Down below, there will be a local access road.

As work continues on the project, the local access road currently serves as the main road for cars through the construction zone. There’s been no recent lane closures for drivers as crews have continued work through the winter.

“Weather has been in our favor,” said Greg Sidorick, Construction Manager for Penn-DOT.

Now, the next step in the project is setting in 135 foot beams for elevated bridges that head in-between the mountains.

“The beams are massive,” Wert said.

Cranes will lift them up towards the bridges from the nearby local access road. To do this, the road will be closed periodically to both lanes of traffic for 10-15 minutes.

The good news: these closures will only happen on two days:

  • Tuesday, February, 18
  • Thursday, February, 20
  • Both days the periodic closures will happen from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  • Following the placement of each beam, traffic will open up again.

“When we’re hooking those beams up, there’s always a risk that something could go wrong. So we stop traffic from the time we pick them up until they’re secured,” Wert said.

Locals tell WTAJ they feel the 9:00 a.m. start time will not have a large impact on morning commuters, but that working through 5:00 p.m. could cause heavy traffic with many folks heading home from work.

When asked about the project, some locals were concerned that by-passing the current connection to Route 144 will have an impact on businesses in that area.

However, many like Angela Anderson from Centre Hall said they know the road will improve safety.

“It has to lessen the impact of accidents in this area… definitely. There’s always been problems here. I have family that live on the other side of the hill, so I often think about them getting home safe,” Anderson said.

Penn-DOT says all the beams for the bridges should be in place by early March. They added that the project is on-schedule to be have cars driving on the new roads (two lanes eastbound and westbound) by this upcoming November.

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