St. Marys connector road project to free up traffic around diamond

Local News

ELK COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – With survey crews in the field over the past few weeks, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is offering a look ahead for the State Route 120 Connector project.

Although no construction activity is currently taking place, area residents and drivers may see archeologic staff and survey crews in the field as project design activities continue. Current work will help the design staff plot the right of way, identify natural and historic resources, and fine-tune potential roadway alignments.

The City of St Marys is a partner on the project, which stems from more than 40 years of traffic congestion in the downtown area. The project is one of the solutions identified as part of the 2018 study that looked at traffic patterns and congestion in downtown St Marys. The project will feature roadway reconstruction to allow traffic to access State Route 120 without going through “The Diamond”.

“During peak hours bottlenecks are formed by a high volume of traffic and tractor-trailers,” said Christie Lannen, the project’s manager.

According to PennDOT, more than 600 commercial vehicles per day come through the projected project area, which can cause severe traffic congestion.

“We have one or two tractor-trailers, it will make significant congestion of the diamond area,” said Joe Fleming, city manager of St. Marys.

Fleming does expect delays during the duration of the project, which Christie Lannen, PennDOT’s project manager overseeing the design said should take about six months. Some delays include limited access to some businesses along Chestnut St., as well as slower traffic movement in the area. But once complete, Fleming sees a safer downtown, and opportunities for local businesses to grow.

“Truck traffic can kind of take away the visibility of our downtown,” he said. “And this way [businesses] will have more visibility from our traffic.”

PennDOT expects the project to be bid in late August of 2023 at an estimated cost of $3 million. To date, funding for the project has come through TIIF (Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund).

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