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Stay calm and take the detours around road work

No one loves road work. No one loves detours, longer commutes, traffic snarls. At best, we tolerate them.

Your tolerance and patience will be requested once again in Middletown. After a major sewer and water line project moved up Union Street in the borough’s downtown business district last year, requiring traffic to detour the area, Middletown again has embarked on a major construction project, this time along Main Street.

About a mile’s worth of sewer and water lines will be replaced along Main Street, a $2.5 million borough project that began on Monday, March 16. The project is expected to move in sections from East Main Street to West Main Street until it is completed in August, when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to repave the street – Route 230.

Like the Union Street project, the Main Street pipeline work is desperately needed. Replacing old sanitary sewer lines – on Union Street, they were leaky century-old brick lines – not only reduces water infiltration in the lines, but also prevents possible sinkholes from forming. Upgrading old water lines facilitates new development, something we hope Middletown, with its growing population of full-time students at neighboring Penn State Harrisburg, sees a lot of in the next several years. Already PennDOT is planning a new Amtrak station along West Main.

The traffic signal loop detectors at Main and North Union streets and Main and Vine streets also will be restored.

The work had to be done sometime soon, and the borough was wise to time the project in conjunction with PennDOT’s planned repaving of Route 230. Because the borough and state agency are working together, Middletown will not have to spend additional money to dig up a freshly-paved roadbed to improve the sewer and water lines.

The borough will also save money by infusing resin inside the aging sewer lines instead of replacing them with pipe. The resin tube that is formed should last 50 years – and it’s cheaper per foot than traditional pipe, the borough says.

The work will be done in stages, with detours created during each stage for local traffic and truck traffic. The borough has produced a detailed map of each stage and local detour, which it has provided to the Press And Journal. The map can be found with our story on the project, which begins on A1 of this issue. You’d be wise to cut it out and stick it on the refrigerator door. You’ll need to refer to it.

After the work on Main Street is completed, PennDOT plans to begin the replacement of the Route 230 bridge over the Swatara Creek that connects Middletown with Londonderry Twp. Construction is expected to be completed in 2016.

With the borough’s downtown revitalization project scheduled to get underway in earnest this summer as well, Middletown streets are going to be busy this year. Work will be going on everywhere – at least on the boroough’s major streets.

Just remember that it’s only temporary. Imagine the benefits, and how it will look after it’s done. Patience is a virtue – especially when driving. Stay calm and follow the detour signs.