A $26.2 million project begun last year to rebuild and restore Germantown Avenue will enter phase two next week, PennDOT officials said yesterday.
The affected blocks, in Germantown, will include Germantown Avenue between Ashmead Street and Church Lane, between High Street and Walnut Lane, and between Coulter Street and Church Lane.
"Safety is a number-one goal for this project," said Gene Blaum, PennDOT spokesman. "But we also wanted to make it uniform to reflect the other sections of the avenue that had been rebuilt.
"And we also wanted to upgrade Germantown Avenue in a way that reflects the historic nature of the area," Blaum said.
During the first two months of construction, motorists can expect to face traffic-pattern shifts, possible lane closures and short-term parking restrictions while crews install granite curbs and new water- and sewer-service lines, and reconstruct sidewalks, according to a PennDOT news release.
Construction - budgeted at $9.2 million - will begin at Ashmead Street and proceed to Church Lane. Crews will begin construction between High Street and Walnut Lane, and between Coulter Street and Church Lane from June 15 to Aug. 31 (when Germantown High and Germantown Friends schools are on summer break) .
One-block closures will begin in late April or early May and continue until late November for removal of the existing roadbed and reconstruction of the avenue, Blaum said.
Construction is scheduled to finish in January 2010.
A short portion of the avenue will be closed while those detours are in effect, and traffic will be diverted onto Greene Street, he said.
News of the second closure of the avenue brought mixed reactions from business owners and employees of stores along the mainly commercial strip.
"I don't like it, it's an inconvenience and it blocks up customer parking," said Akisha Bowens, manager of the Family Dollar store, on the avenue near Ashmead Street.
"It's noisy and not good for business," Bowens added.
"I have some elderly customers that I haven't seen in a while," Bowens said, pointing to a torn-up part of the sidewalk across from her store.
Len Brown, who operates a newsstand near the dollar store, is not as worried about what trouble the new closures might cause.
"It's not so bad," Brown said. "It's not the first time they've done something like this, and it won't be the last."
Down Germantown Avenue near Walnut Lane, Carolyn Keys foresaw both positive and negative results from the project.
"If they're upgrading to beautify the area for businesses like ours, then it's a plus, but the loss of business is not," said Keys, an employee at Keep In Touch Flower Shop.
Keys said that the rerouting of the SEPTA buses and cars scheduled to take place this summer might affect the business.
"We count on some of that window advertisements of people driving by and seeing what we have," Keys said.
Next door at Empire Bookstore, Tiffany Allford and her husband were packing up and moving to a new location.
"We knew it would affect business and it's already slow here," Allford said of their reason for leaving.
"We travel up in Mount Airy a lot and saw how long it took for them to complete the project up there, and we just knew it would be excruciating," she said.
David Weaver, an employee of the Nile Cafe, near High Street, also had mixed reactions.
"I think because you have so many businesses on this stretch there's going to be some problems. but it's a mixed bag," Weaver said.
"Ultimately, though, you have to keep it nice and you have to keep it beautiful."