Rush hour on the Route 30 bypass is about to get ugly, again.
For the next seven months, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will undertake a $5.3 million project to repair and resurface the roadway between the Route 82 and Route 10 interchanges through Valley, West Caln and Sadsbury.
The project is being paid for by state funds.
Some 24,000 vehicles travel that six-mile stretch every day.
This is the last in a series of three improvements to the highway that connects western Chester County with Route 202 in East Whiteland. In all, PennDOT is investing $16 million in the roadway.
"This is the final part of the highway's preventative maintenance project," said Gene Blaum, PennDOT spokesman. "The surface was very worn and rough."
In 2003-04, PennDOT repaired and resurfaced the bypass between Business Route 30 in the Exton/Frazer area and Route 340 in Caln for nearly $7.1 million. In 2004-05, Penn-DOT improved the bypass between routes 340 and 82 in Valley for almost $4.1 million.
Blaum said major ramp upgrades and repaving is planned for the entire highway, but "that will be much more expensive and much more involved" and will not happen until several years into the future. No decision has been made whether lanes will be added to the roadway at that time, Blaum noted. That is still being studied.
In the meantime, "we don't want the highway to deteriorate any further," Blaum said.
The road was built in the early 1960s. Blaum said the growth of automobile traffic that the highway handles today was never anticipated a half a century ago when the bypass was in the planning process.
The biggest disruption for the bypass' motorists in this phase comes along early in the process.
Beginning Monday and lasting approximately two weeks, eastbound and westbound travel on the bypass will be reduced to one lane in each direction weekdays from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The right lane will be closed in each direction while crews repair the shoulders.
In early April, round-the-clock closures will start on the eastbound and westbound bypass when crews begin to remove and replace deteriorated concrete. The concrete replacement will begin on the western end of the bypass and the single-lane pattern on each direction will cover a distance of 2.5 miles.
Initially, the right lane will be closed in each direction from just west of Airport Road to the western end of the bypass.
Once the contractor replaces concrete from both lanes in this area, the single-lane traffic pattern will move east to the area between Airport Road and Route 82.
The concrete removal and replacement operation is expected to last through July. Then crews will mill the pavement in August and pave the highway in September.
The construction area will be patrolled by both Pennsylvania State Police and local police, Blaum said. Fines are doubled in a work zone for traffic infractions. In addition, drivers face a 15-day license suspension if caught speeding 11 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit.
Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Doug O'Conner said while the Route 30 bypass already gets "a lot of attention," once construction starts there will be an increased presence of state police troopers patrolling the highway.
"There will be zero tolerance for aggressive drivers, and violators can expect to be cited," O'Conner said.
O'Conner recommends drivers map out alternative routes around the construction area and give themselves extra time to get where they are going.