KYW Regional Affairs Council

“Stimulating Inconvenience”


by Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You’re driving along, making good time, when all of a sudden… road work. And you’re crawling.

So, how much time is lost behind the wheel when stimulus construction jams traffic?

The stimulus program has created 30 major road improvement projects in the five-county Philadelphia area over the last two years. And perhaps more than a few have left you pounding the steering wheel.

That’s how Elena Bachir, a server at the Manayunk Diner, feels.

“It’s disastrous,” she told KYW Newsradio recently.  “They shouldn’t be doing this construction or anything during the peak hours when people are trying to get to work.”

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Gene Blaum says Penndot really does consider traffic delays and disruptions when planning a project. And, he adds, they do try to avoid work during peak travel times.

(Penndot spokesman Gene Blaum. File photo)

“We develop a traffic management plan. And it’s based on keeping traffic moving through the construction zone, while at the same time giving the contractor the opportunity to get the job built,” Blaum (right) notes.

For example, he says, Penndot allows most Girard Point Bridge work only between 9am and 3pm, and they try not to close extra lanes during events at the sports complex.

And on Route 422, Blaum says, the distinct inbound and outbound drive-time patterns allowed contractors to work on an extra westbound lane from 8pm until two the next afternoon.

One thing Penndot does not do is measure the productivity lost when drivers are stuck in stimulus construction.  Motorist Zachary Harris, though, does not see red when he’s delayed. He prefers to focus on the end product.

“You can get upset for about five minutes, or while you’re in there,” Harris says.  “But as time goes on, everything is going to be smoother, it’s going to run quicker.”


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