BROOKVILLE, JEFFERSON COUNTY---Residents in Brookville said it’s hard to drive anywhere in town without running into a traffic jam.
PennDOT officials said the Blake’s Bridge Project on Route 322 was originally slated to be finished in November, but they’re now saying the construction will be extended for at least an extra month.
“It’s very much of an inconvenience. I try to avoid going that way, but it doesn’t seem to help. There’s still traffic backed up to Main Street a lot of times,” said Brookville resident, Nora Jean Nall.
Delays with materials, design, and permits have extended the construction of Blake’s Bridge in Brookville, and officials said a crowded work area doesn’t help the traffic situation, but they’re doing what they can to keep things moving.
“Unfortunately it’s something that we’re going to have to put up with because the bridge needs replaced,” said Brookville resident, Steve McPherson, “You certainly hope that things go quicker than they have been, but I know that there’s little details that need to be worked out.”
The bridge was built in 1926, and after they finish building a temporary bridge to detour traffic, PennDOT crews will demolish and rebuild Blake’s Bridge.
“For as old as the original bridge was, and as much traffic goes over it when 80 is closed, I’m sure it was a necessity,” said Brookville resident, Sue DeMotte.
But with construction on both sides of town, residents say delays are impossible to avoid.
“It makes it tight getting in and out of places,” Dave Porter said, “You’ve got construction out on the boulevard, so any way you come into town it’s all congested.”
Nearly 11,000 vehicles cross Blake’s Bridge daily, and residents say they have to cross it just to get things like groceries.
“Giant Eagle is coming on the other end of town, but it’s not here yet. There’s a pharmacy, but there’s no grocery store,” Nall said, “So the only place to get groceries in Brookville is at Mike’s, and it’s down there across the bridge.”
Because the bridge goes over the North Fork Creek, which is a fresh water trout stream, PennDOT had to obtain additional permits from the DEP, which caused more delays.
PennDOT officials ask for drivers to be patient in the area, and say they’ll finish the project as fast as possible.