Altoona Curve fans will deal with few if any screwball traffic patterns this season, despite the ongoing Park Avenue project.
"There will be minimal impact on ingress and egress," as the project contract requires New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. to suspend operations in the vicinity of the park before, during and after home games, said Curve General Manager Rob Egan and Roger Dodson, assistant district executive for construction for PennDOT District 9.
Still, fans will need to be patient, as the road won't be finished until the season is almost over, and the presence of barriers, cones, construction equipment and unfinished pavement could mean slower going and tighter parking in some places.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Construction on Park Avenue continues Monday afternoon, days before opening day for the Altoona Curve at Blair County Ballpark.
"There may be confusion at first," Egan said. "It's not ideal, but we have to work with it."
The Curve opens its season Thursday. While warm weather is the time for baseball, it's also the time for construction, and the work needs to be done, Egan said.
Drivers must not only be patient but careful, Dodson said. They should keep in mind that five times more motorists than workers die in construction-zone accidents, he said, because of vehicles striking heavy equipment or going down embankments.
To enhance safety, PennDOT will provide flashing yellow lights that team officials can operate during high-traffic times before and after games.
All normal access points for ballpark lots will be open, including the access point at the lower end of the VIP lot, closest to Frankstown Road, Egan said.
At the Curve's suggestion, the contractor has adjusted the design for that access point, to soften the slope from the road down to the lot.
Curve officials had worried that fans coming uphill out of the lot would have trouble getting out safely and that delivery trucks might get hung up on the transition between the lot and the road.
Project officials agreed the concern was valid and designed a longer ramp into the lot, Egan said.
The change won't eliminate parking spaces.
"We're really pleased with that," Egan said.
PennDOT District Executive Tom Prestash negotiated the change with New Enterprise, Dodson said. It will add cost, but not much in comparison to the whole, he said.
Altogether, the road project - to widen and straighten Park Avenue - has grown by about $600,000 to $10.3 million through change orders. Much of the increase resulted from the need to get rid of underground storage tanks no one knew were there, Dodson said.
Fire police hired by the team will continue to control traffic on game nights.
After games, motorists exiting the top floor of the garage will continue to have the opportunity to cross Park Avenue and go up Eighth Street through the residential part of Lakemont to Frankstown Road near the Heidelberg Country Club.
The project will add a traffic light at Park Avenue and Eighth Street to facilitate the flow of that traffic.
The contractor is scheduled to be done by mid-August, Dodson said. The last home game is Sept. 6.
Curve officials have worked with PennDOT and New Enterprise regularly to discuss the project, Egan said.
"I can't say enough about their can-do attitude, working with us," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.