HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) — After a two-month hiatus, the roundabout being built where Route 62 and East State Street meet in Hermitage is back on track for completion, and at least one local business owner is happy to see it.
The project started at the end of April and a two-month shutdown of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the completion date to late October, according to Reggie Jannetti, the engineer supervising the project.
Currently, crews are in Phase 2 of the project. There are five total phases.
Jannetti said in Phase 2, they will complete about 95% of the roundabout and the other 5% will be completed in Phase 3.
“We built a temporary road in the north side of where the roundabout is going to be,” Jannetti said.
That allows traffic to flow on the side of the roundabout closest to Shenango Valley Mall.
In the next phase, they will finish whatever didn’t get done in Phase 2.
Then, in Phase 4, they will focus on redoing the entrance to the mall.
In Phase 5, they will put on the finishing touches.
“Final signing, seeding, highway lighting — that type of work,” Jannetti said.
The reason for the roundabout is to get rid of the sharp angle that drivers face when merging from Route 62 onto East State Street.
In the end, the roundabout will be safer and save the city money, Jannetti said.
“Studies that PennDOT and the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), have shown that roundabouts do reduce accidents… and they also save municipalities money in that they don’t have to pay electric bills for the signals and they also don’t have to pay maintenance bills to maintain the signals, so it’s a win-win,” Jannetti said.
The workers are also wearing masks while working, but they don’t have to when they are in open air at least 15 feet apart or when they’re paving because of the heat from the asphalt.
“We’ve received some compliments from the public just driving by and yelling out ‘Thank you for wearing your mask,’” Jannetti said.
Mike Tota, the owner of Wheaton Dry Cleaners and co-owner of Shenango Valley Tuxedo and Suits next door, said the construction company has been kind to him and hasn’t hurt their business.
Crews are redoing his two entrances to put in a sidewalk.
What has hurt him, Tota said, is the pandemic.
“I had a couple customers that were good for 15 to 20 shirts a month and their companies they are working for are paying them to stay home. Also, when the schools closed in March and April, there went my teachers,” he said.
The lack of proms and weddings have hurt business next door as well.
While business is slow, Tota is doing his best to stay positive.
“I’m optimistic. I mean, I just want the schools to come back in the fall and things to get kind of normal again.”
As for the construction, Tota is happy to see it.
“Where the two merge, unless you’re from the area, you just think you’re going to have access, and if you don’t see that yield sign… I’ve seen several accidents there,” he said.