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Section of Towanda River Relief Route Set to Open

There will be traffic, one way or another, by the start of winter along the full length of the River Relief Route in Towanda. The project may not be completed in early November, as projected in the contract, but PENNDOT district engineers in Montoursville are saying it will be open to traffic by the end of the construction season—even if they have to come back in the spring for the finishing touches on the paving.

In the meantime, look for one section of River Street to be opened this month. The traffic lights on the Farley Connector, or the access on and off River Street from the Veterans Memorial Bridge, will be activated the week of Sept. 13, PENNDOT reports. They expect that traffic will be flowing along River Street from the bridge to State Street, a block north of the Bradford County Courthouse, starting Friday, Sept. 24.

"That's if the weather cooperates," reported PENNDOT's Rick Mason this week.

Leading up to that Sept. 24th target date, there will be some negative impact on traffic movement through the borough. Starting this week, there will be pavement repairs in the Main Street intersection of the river bridge, both south and north of the intersection, bringing the main traffic flow in and out of Towanda on Rt. 6. Motorists are advised to expect delays, and traffic will be controlled by flaggers. Next week, they will be working on activating the traffic lights—new signals at the end of the bridge and the Farley Connector—but the specific day or days depends on preparatory work this week.

The overall project is slightly behind schedule, Mason confirmed to The Rocket-Courier Tuesday, and there are two contributing factors behind that. One has been unanticipated utilities excavated within the project area, particularly unmapped drainage conduits, between the borough and the river. The other is the river itself, whose levels have been much higher than expected for sustained periods throughout the summer. In fact, Mason noted that engineers had to alter plans for work site areas along the river, including utilizing a causeway on the river project area instead of a portable dam as originally planned.

"There is still a chance we can get the work finished by (the end of) fall," said a hopeful Mason, but he concedes this would require making up some lost ground and enjoying Mother Nature's cooperation for the next couple of months.

The River Relief Route, also known as the River Street Extension, runs parallel to Main Street through downtown Towanda and then, as Rt. 6 follows the curve onto York Avenue, the relief route will follow the river until about a quarter of a mile south of the OSRAM-Sylvania complex in North Towanda before cutting diagonally west and joining Rt. 6 at Patterson Boulevard near the DuPont plant.

According to PENNDOT, the average daily traffic count for Rt. 6 through Towanda is 9,000—more than double the population of the county seat itself. Left turns are blamed for many of the delays during peak traffic hours on the two-lane route. According to Mason, the reason one-way streets north and south is not an option is because of a commitment to local residents that trucks would be prohibited on the River Relief Route.

The anticipated opening of River Street from the bridge to State Street later this month will at least divide traffic in the central business district of Main Street.

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