The open road may seem like a distant memory to commuters along Route 202, who after decades of work-induced slowdowns briefly enjoyed a break from the backups.
Traffic jams are returning as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation fixes two bridges over Amtrak rail lines just south of Route 30 in East and West Whiteland.
The work currently is impacting the southbound traffic north of the construction area during the evening rush hour, bringing back unwanted memories of backups past.
“It’s bad,” lamented Byron DiPaolo, 56, a scientist at GlaxoSmithKline in King of Prussia who lives in West Chester. “I’ll be retired before this gets done.”
The $26.4 million project is the final phase of the U.S. 202 Section 300 improvement project. Crews will repair the six-span twin structures by upgrading the support piers; replacing the bridge decks and walls; constructing a retaining wall to stabilize the embankment, rehabilitating existing concrete pavement north of the bridges; and installing new Intelligent Transportation System, or ITS, equipment, PennDOT has said.
It was just last July that motorists and county officials celebrated the completion of work on Route 202, leaving the heavily traveled road free from construction for the first time in decades. PennDOT said at the time workers would return to do the work over the Amtrak bridges this spring.
But some regular commuters like DiPaolo remember comments made by PennDOT and transportation officials that the delays on the last phase of work would not be as bad as previous ones. They blame the way the work area is staged, which resulted in a lane to the Route 30 Bypass being closed. As a result, they say, traffic backs up on Route 202 south and also delays access to Route 30 west.
“I travel that route every day and I’d say 60-to-70 percent of the people get off at the bypass,” DiPaolo said. “It’s getting really bad again, even the back roads. I’ve seen it backed up between Chesterbrook and (Route) 29,” well north of the work.
Another regular user of the road, Jim Verzinskie, expressed his disappointment with the new backup.
“To my knowledge no work is being performed in these lanes (going to the Route 30 Bypass) but only just south of this on 202 for railroad overpass work,” Verzinskie said. “A daily view of this would show they are causing undue backup with this lane closure. I don’t know what can be done if anything but two years of this closure just negated all improvements on 202 for the afternoon rush. Surely someone could have come up with a better plan than this.”
The delays depend on when drivers reach the area, Verzinskie said, citing his own small, informal survey. At 3 p.m., the backup is only 3 to 5 minutes long. It grows to 20 to 30 minutes at 5 p.m., anecdotally. DiPaolo said his half-hour commute has stretched to an hour some days.
Brad Rudolph, a spokesman for PennDOT, issued a schedule for ramp restrictions for the project:
• Stage 3A: Through November 2017 (one lane 202 southbound to Route 30);
• Stage 3B: January-June 2018 (one lane Route 202 southbound to Route 30);
• Stage 4A: July-November 2018 (Route 30 to Route 202 northbound narrows to one lane);
• Stage 4B: April-June 2019 (Route 30 to Route 202 NB narrows to one lane).
“This is part of work to replace the shoulder and right lanes,” Rudolph said.
In addition to rehabilitating the two Route 202 bridges, the improvement project includes restoring U.S. 202 pavement near the U.S. 30 Interchange; rehabilitating the bridge carrying Morstein Road over U.S. 202 in East Goshen; and installing new highway signs and Dynamic Message System structures on U.S. 202 and U.S. 30 in Tredyffrin, East Whiteland and West Whiteland townships in Chester County, and on U.S. 202 in Upper Merion in Montgomery County.
Allan A Myers, Inc. of Worcester, Montgomery County, is the general contractor on the $26.4 million project which is financed with 100 percent federal funds.
– For more information, visit www.us202-300.com.
– To contact Business Editor Brian McCullough, call 610-235-2655 or send an email to email@example.com.