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ERIC POOLE | Herald

Leo Miller, from Laurel Paving in Windber, heats a rubber mat in preparation of installing a faux-brick facade for a crosswalk at the intersection of East State Street and North Kerrwood Avenue in Hermitage.

HERMITAGE — By 2 p.m. Friday, temperatures in the area were approaching 90 degrees.

And it was even hotter on the asphalt at North Kerrwood and East State streets in Hermitage. But it wasn’t quite hot enough for Leo Miller’s purposes. 

Miller, an employee of Laurel Paving in Windber, Somerset County, was part of a four-man crew putting down faux-brick facades on the crosswalks in the area of PennDOT’s paving project on East State Street in Hermitage.

The facade, which is supposed to look like brick, is actually made out of a rubber-like substance. Miller and his crew — Dennis Underwood of Johnstown, and brothers Tyler and Zac Rugg of Windber — put down the rubber mat, and heat it to about 200 degrees.

When the mat is sufficiently heated, the crew brings out a cable mesh with rectangles in roughly the shape of bricks and puts it on top of the partially melted mats. They pound the mesh into the mats, leaving behind indentations that look like road masonry work, only far less time-consuming to create.

The conditions were another matter entirely, especially when the temperature was brushing against 90 degrees in the shade and even hotter on the asphalt.

“It was nice this morning. It’s getting hot now,” said Miller, of Central City, Somerset County, understating the heat. 

Those faux brick crosswalks also represent good news for Shenango Valley residents and travelers who have had to contend with paving and streetscape upgrades for more than a year, nearly two full summer construction seasons.

The remaining work, on at least some parts of State Street, is cosmetic.

Both segments of the State Street projects are scheduled to be completed within the next four to six weeks, said PennDOT spokeswoman Jill Harry. That covers the main Sharon-Hermitage commercial thoroughfare from Oakland Avenue east to Route 18.

She estimated that work on the project’s Sharon end, which began in the spring of 2018, could be completed by the second week of August. The Hermitage work will be finished by the end of the month.

“In the next week, people will see us up there adjusting the manhole covers,” Harry said.

Another project — the replacement of a bridge on state Route 760 (Broadway Road) in Hermitage — is ahead of schedule, Harry said. Work on the bridge, near Hermitage’s Food Waste to Energy facility, has resulted in one-lane traffic controlled by a temporary stop light.

The project was scheduled for completion in late October. Harry said work will be finished in September.