Plans for Route 403 road, infrastructure improvements displayed at municipal building

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Sep. 23—DAVIDSVILLE, Pa. — Plans, photos and maps detailing the upcoming road and infrastructure improvement project affecting the local state Route 403 corridor were on display at the Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, municipal building Thursday for a public meeting.

"We really wanted to do this so everyone had an idea of what's going on," PennDOT project manager Jaclyn Himmelwright said.

This work is the second phase of a project that was designed in 2017 and involves resurfacing and rehabilitation as well as spot improvements along the roadway.

The scope of this part of the job includes signal upgrades, structure preservation projects, structure replacements, such as culverts, sight distance improvements and more along roughly five miles from Route 403 to the Cambria County line with Indiana County, near state Route 985.

Crews will start work from the U.S. Route 219 Davidsville interchange, where the first phase finished last year.

Construction officials predict the new project will start next spring and finish by 2024.

During that time, a detour is being proposed for the construction of a retaining wall north of Tire Hill, which will utilize U.S. Route 219, state Route 56 and Eisenhower Boulevard, and be in place for three to four months.

The open meeting ran from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and many residents packed the room prior to the start time.

"Thus far, it's been well- received," said Nicholas Puzak, consultant project manager from Gibson-Thomas Engineering Company Inc.

Township officials and first responders were also receptive to the work.

Himmelwright said project representatives met with those groups prior to the public event.

Conemaugh Township resident Mark Cable attended the meeting to inquire about paving along Route 403.

"This is great because, for years, I've wanted to call somebody and ask what's taking so long," he said.

Cable lives near the municipal building and noted the poor condition of the thoroughfare that features several patches between Davidsville and the Tire Hill area.

"I've never seen this road so bad," he said.

After reviewing the plans on display, Cable wondered why the work would take two years.

He planned to discuss those questions with PennDOT or Gibson-Thomas officials.

In addition to photos and plans, a large map was laid out on a table in the middle of the room for the public to examine.

Richard Maldet, who lives near Greenhouse Park, said he was interested in a sinking part of the route near Cookietown Road.

"It's about time they got that fixed," he said.

Puzak said it was nice to have public interactions on these projects similar to this because the people who live near or drive the roads every day can provide invaluable information.

Bids for the work will be opened this winter, and attendees were encouraged to fill out a questionnaire before leaving.