SHARON – Motorists in Sharon and Hermitage will receive a welcome relief from construction soon, but Sharon businesses continue to suffer.
The State Street Streetscape project in Sharon runs from Buhl Court near Daffin’s Candies to Forker Boulevard near Sharon High School. It involves rebuilding the road, sidewalks and curbs and moving some utilities. The total cost is more than $5.7 million.
The Hermitage end of the project involves replacing a small bridge near Wick Avenue, paving and some sidewalk and curb work. The cost is more than $4.5 million.
Jill Harry, PennDOT spokeswoman, said paving in the Hermitage section will be finished by Tuesday or Wednesday.
“The final layer of paving has to be put down,” Harry said. “The manhole covers are all finished.”
Drivers were forced to dodge raised manhole covers that jut above the road surface on the project’s Hermitage side for about a month. The contractor and PennDOT blamed Verizon, saying the utility insisted that only it could modify the manhole covers.
Throughout the long holiday weekend, traffic patterns in Sharon are expected to remain as they are now, Harry said.
“We’re all set for the weekend,” Harry said. “There won’t be too much work going on because of the holiday. There will be minor work in the Sharon area but no lane restrictions.”
Businesses in Sharon are eager to have the work finished, said Dan Resinger, owner of Dick’s TV on the corner of East State Street and Spencer Avenue.
“But we want it done right,” Resinger said.
Resinger dedicated most of the day Wednesday meeting with PennDOT officials and state Rep Mark Longietti of Hermitage, D-7th District.
The pole on the Dick’s TV corner was installed eight inches too low and PennDOT offered solutions to correct the problem, but Resinger was not happy with the proposed fixes.
One was to put a cheek wall around the outside of the pole to keep the water from flowing around the bottom. In front of Dick’s TV, PennDOT also proposed dropping the pavement by six to eight inches and creating a step by the iconic pop machine that has been on that corner, courtesy of Dick’s, for several decades.
“All I want is a walkable surface in the entire area like it’s always been so we don’t have a trip hazard, and I don’t have an ugly mess out there and I don’t have water coming into the building,” Resinger said. “But (PennDOT seems) to be looking for the expedient resolution of this problem, and I’m looking at the long-term impact. Whatever they do, I have to live with it forever.”
He said that PennDOT bought a little slice of the corner and got a temporary construction easement. But PennDOT does not have his permission to elevate the sidewalk on his property.
“I said I do not approve of this,” Resinger said. “You’re operating on my property, not on PennDOT property.”
Resinger said Longietti was very helpful. He called the state representative after he said PennDOT ignored his objections.
“(Longietti) came down this morning to get a feel for the problem,” he said. “He had contacted the (PennDOT) project manager to come down and discuss the various options.”
Two other options were discussed when Longietti got involved, and Resinger felt much better about the new proposed solutions, none of which involve creating a hazardous step.
“I’m much happier now than I was before,” he said. “Mark was very helpful in getting them to take a step back, consider more options.”
Across the street, Shenango Valley Meats at the corner of Forker Boulevard and East State Street suffers signage woes.
The business’ sign was taken down so construction crews could work on the corner curb and sidewalk.
When Shenango Valley Meats was about to buy their new sign with the ticker at the bottom, they found out it did not meet city zoning laws.
“We would have had to wait an additional nine weeks and we just didn’t want to wait anymore,” said Tim Rogers, co-owner of Shenango Valley Meats.
So Rogers and his business partner, Shawn Nakich, settled on a sign similar to their old one.
“It’s a big project. It’s just gone on too long,” Resinger said. “You try to be patient because the work is necessary, but it’s been real difficult to endure, and it’s been real hard on the business.”
For exactly one year, one lane of East State Street has been closed most of the time between Daffin’s and Forker Boulevard near Sharon High School. Only westbound traffic has been allowed.
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