McMURRAY – Prepare to detour.
The long-anticipated and long-dreaded road construction project to realign and reconstruct the intersection of Old Washington Road and the ramp leading to and from Valley Brook Road and Route 19 in Peters Township is set to begin in about five weeks.
Peters Township Council learned Monday that the intersection of Valley Brook and Old Washington roads will close May 15, followed about three weeks later with the entire closure of the ramp and portions of Valley Brook Road, including the area under the overpass of Washington Road.
On average, 11,000 vehicles travel along Valley Brook Road that connects Southpointe and other areas of Cecil Township with Washington Road and East McMurray Road in Peters Township. All of the 11,000 drivers will need to find an alternate route for about 18 months while the multimillion dollar project is completed.
Official detours will be posted on state-owned roads. However, Michael Silvestri, township manager, said he expects motorists will find alternate ways through primarily residential streets.
During the prolonged detour, Silvestri said he expects East McMurray Road to take the brunt of the additional traffic. East McMurray Road is already a heavily-traveled route that contains four Peters Township schools the high school, the middle school and Pleasant Valley Elementary and McMurray Elementary schools. The route is also home to the township’s municipal buildings, including the library, the police station and the ambulance garage.
The one, somewhat redeeming feature is the project is expected to begin as schools close for the summer. By the fall, when classes resume, drivers should have found acceptable routes to reach their destination.
On Monday, council members learned of the need for temporary stop signs, mainly in the residential areas as drivers travel the neighborhoods in search of alternate routes.
Silvestri said council members have the authority to authorize temporary stop signs without the need of enacting an ordinance.
Some of the anticipated alternate, unofficial detours include Maple Lane, Rock Run Road from Georgetown Road, Fieldbrook and Marion drives from East McMurray Road, Center Church Road that connects from Washington Road to East McMurray Road, Thompsonville Road and Hoover Lane, just to name a few.
The township, Silvestri said, will take a “wait and see” attitude when the closure occurs as to where temporary stop signs are needed.
Drivers traveling south from Washington Road with the intention of using the ramp that connects to the western end of Valley Brook Road near the self-storage business will not be affected. However, motorists will not be permitted to travel up the one-way ramp.
Police are expected to have extra patrols in the affected areas.
Silvestri said he will attend a “kickoff” meeting May 1 with officials from the state Department of Transportation and the contractor.
The project has been delayed for several years because of difficulties involving land acquisition and a lawsuit regarding a former billboard that faced Washington Road.
The township’s share of the project is $800,000, which was forwarded to PennDOT a few years ago.