MIFFLINTOWN - Construction of the roundabout on William Penn Highway in front of the Tuscarora Junior High School is nearing completion, just in time for the start of the school year.
Crews from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have been busy putting the finishing touches on the roundabout, and the detour in place will soon be lifted.
The roundabout is the first of its kind in PennDOT District 2, which encompasses McKean, Potter, Elk, Cameron, Clinton, Clearfield, Centre, Mifflin and Juniata counties.
Sentinel photo by KIERNAN?M. SCHALK
The new river bridge which will link Mifflin and Mifflintown will open in the fall. At the top of the hill in the background, out of sight, is the roundabout in front of Tuscarora Junior High School.
A roundabout is a location at which traffic moves in a counter clockwise direction around a central island, allowing traffic to flow more efficiently. (See PennDOT website for video on roundabout.)
Studies show that roundabouts provide a 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes, a 75 percent reduction in injury crashes, a 30 to 40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes and a 10 percent reduction in bicycle crashes, when compared to a standard traffic light intersection, according to documents from PennDOT.
There are a couple of key things to remember when navigating a roundabout. First, drivers approaching the roundabout yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Second, drivers exiting the roundabout should always use their turn signals. The speed limit in the roundabout will be 20 mph.
Construction Manager and Civil Engineer Supervisor Greg Sidorick said the pace of construction has been hectic at times, but, to date, everything is running on schedule.
The roundabout is part of a $16 million project that will feature new bridges that span the river and railroad, as well as a new pedestrian bridge where the current state Route 35 bridge is located between Mifflin and Mifflintown boroughs.
Sidorick said the new river bridge, which will be accessible via the roundabout, will be complete by the end of the construction season, probably in November, and the new bridge spanning the railroad in Mifflin is nearly complete.
Sidorick said crews have been working days and sometimes nights to pour concrete on the new bridge, because concrete has to be poured at a temperature below 90 degrees and there have been some very hot days this summer.
Sidorick said the recent first pour of 350 cubic yards of concrete had to be done at night.
The concrete for the bridge is being brought in by Juniata Concrete in Mifflintown, and the asphalt on the project is from Naginey Quarry near Milroy in Mifflin County. The reinforcing steel is manufactured at a plant in Titusville, Sidorick said.
Sidorick said at any one time there are between 50 and 75 people working on various portions of the overall project, which is expected to be complete when the new pedestrian bridge opens in 2014.