Bridge repair project creates bumpy ride

By on May 6, 2015

by Patrick Burns

The long anticipated Route 272 detour that started 11 a.m. Monday will end in some 440 days.

Yet it took only a few hours before concerned residents and community leaders soured on safety issues all along the northbound detour which flows from State Street and Old Mill Road past Ephrata High School.

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Ephrata High School buses line up at new traffic light installed to facilitate Route 272 detour.

The detour — necessary due to a badly needed bridge replacement project along what is known locally as South Reading Road — averages 16,000 vehicles a day across that span.

Penny Talbert, Ephrata Library director, immediately had questions on where the detour should start.

“I was also surprised that the detour didn’t begin at the State Street and the 272 fork,” Talbert said Tuesday.

!!! Detour Troubles 2

Several issues sprung up after Route 272 detour began Monday.

It turns out the northbound Route 272 detour —which PennDOT said would bring traffic off Route 272 to State Street — actually begins about one-third of a mile from that fork.

Some motorists this week who traveled north — exiting right out of the Wawa parking lot to where barricades block the Route 272 lane — were forced to reverse their vehicles and cut through the library to State Street.

“I have been concerned about that traffic with so many children out in the parking lot,” Talbert said. “I’m not quite sure there is a solution unless the detour is moved up to that fork — I’m assuming there’s a reason for what they are doing.”

Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey and other officers said the detour’s launch has been been a bumpy ride so far.

“(Police) are reeducating people on what ‘detour’ signs mean,” Harvey said during an Ephrata Township Supervisors meeting Tuesday night.

Traffic congestion at Ephrata High School, where a new traffic light went into effect Monday, has many people impatient, noted Scott Galen, Ephrata High School Principal.

Signs on Opal Street and Old Mill Road seek to prevent vehicles from cutting through mobile home park to Route 272 businesses.

Signs on Opal Street and Old Mill Road seek to prevent vehicles from cutting through mobile home park to Route 272 businesses.

“…we have made a few adjustments to compensate for any delays the detoured route and traffic lights may cause,” Galen said. “We strongly encourage students and parents to do the same and allocate additional time traveling to and from school.”

Emerald and Old Mill

Sign on Opal Street, a private road that has not been dedicated to Ephrata Borough.

Police said many people have also ignored “private drive” signs in front of a mobile home community. Vehicles have cut through Opal and Emerald streets from State Street to Route 272 businesses such as Rita’s and Green Mountain Cyclery.

“I can’t believe they didn’t come up with a better detour around a busier street,” said one Emerald Street resident as an 18-wheel tractor trailer whirled north along Old Mill Road toward Ephrata High School.

Ephrata resident Tim Barr noted that “traffic will stink for the duration,” on The Ephrata Review’s Facebook page Tuesday.

“Unfortunately the drivers cutting through the mobile home park are ignoring the safety of the residents,” Barr said. “And making a precarious situation more unsafe by cutting into traffic. The ones driving around the signs should be ticketed.”

Michelle Cramer Simmons said drivers appear to ignore the “detour” signs.

“I was coming from Rita’s towards Kmart (and) four cars were actually coming from Wawa towards Rita’s,” Simmons said. “They went around the signs and I was actually stopped on the bridge waiting for the last person to get turned around. The workers were standing on equipment telling those cars to turn around.”

Kimberly Minnich, who operates The Deck, suggested the barricade be moved closer to the State Street and Route 272 fork

“People are not seeing the tiny sign that says: ‘road closed ahead,’ she noted. “There is going to be a head on collision there if it’s not closed off at night.”

Tina Thompson lamented on Facebook about the detour’s rocky start.

“I’m really hoping no one is counting down the days and holding PennDOT to the 450 days,” Thompson stated on Facebook. “No offense to anyone but I’m thinking it’s going to be more like 480 (days).”

“Hey we could make it fun and start a pool,” she said.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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