Nicki Donohoe - Franklin Street improvement plans

PennDOT project manager Nicki Donohoe discusses Franklin Street improvement plans on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, during an open house and plans display at Bishop McCort Catholic High School.

A road improvement project in the Johnstown area and two bridge upgrades in Bedford County are on PennDOT’s list of 61 “emergency and critical” projects that will go ahead during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Johnstown-area project will involve improvements to nearly 2 miles of Franklin Street, between Southmont Boulevard in Johnstown and Route 985 in Upper Yoder Township. PennDOT spokeswoman Tara Callahan-Henry said it was determined that the project was critical because there are two spots along that section of Franklin Street where the adjacent slope is deteriorating.

In one of those spots, located in the area between Roxbury Park and Goucher Street, an existing retaining wall is deteriorating and will be replaced by a new, longer retaining wall. In the other problem spot, located between Goucher Street and Route 985, the slope has failed and will be repaired using soil nailing, a technique that involves inserting pieces of rebar or similar reinforcing elements into the slope, she said.

The project will also include milling and resurfacing of the road surface and drainage, guide rail placement and sign improvements, Callahan-Henry said. No definite start date for the project has yet been set.

In Bedford County, work will continue on the rehabilitation of the bridge that carries Oppenheimer Road over Oppenheimer Run in East St. Clair Township and the replacement of the bridge that carries Route 915 over the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River in Hopewell.

At the site of the Hopewell bridge project, workers from prime contractor HRI Inc. on Monday will resume demolishing the existing steel truss bridge and hauling it away. It’s part of an $11.5 million project that includes the replacement of the bridge, the realignment of nearby Route 26 and the construction of retaining walls along the nearby river.

Most PennDOT highway and bridge projects in the state were paused on March 17 in response to guidelines put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf to slow the spread of COVID-19 by minimizing person-to-person contact.

PennDOT announced Tuesday that work would continue on projects addressing landslide repairs; critical bridge, tunnel and drainage repairs; and work needed to eliminate roadway restrictions that could slow or stop the movement of life-sustaining goods and services.

The resumption of those projects, according to PennDOT, is meant “to ensure a reliable transportation system as circumstances surrounding COVID-19 continue to unfold.”

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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