On Monday morning, construction workers began marking and cutting pavement, taking the first steps on Rush Township's long-awaited Safe Routes to School project along Meadow Avenue.
The trouble is, the construction is taking place along one of the main arteries to the Rush Township Elementary School. Rush Township supervisors and Heim Construction workers, the contractor for the job, are asking those who live and travel in the area to remain patient.
"During certain portions of the project, access to driveways along Meadow Avenue will not be possible between Mariner and Grove streets," the supervisors wrote in a letter to residents. "However inconvenient this may be, it is a necessity for completion of the project."
Supervisor Robert Leibensperger said residents can sign up for text, phone or email alerts about the status of the project via the Rush Township website. Workers are concentrating on the area near the elementary school first, hoping to get much of that underway before school starts.
"People won't be able to use their driveways between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., but they can park in the driveways and along the street in the evening," Leibensperger said. "It will just be too dangerous for people to use their driveways with the heavy equipment moving around."
The aim of the project is to create a safe connection between Rush Elementary School and other areas in the village of Hometown. The federally funded project was first announced May 2011, and at that point included $204,000 in funds secured through the Northeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Enhancement Funding Program.
Rush Township was able to attain additional grant monies, expanding the funding to $356,000. The project will upgrade sidewalks and paths to connect Rush Elementary to Mahanoy Avenue, Route 54.
The targeted area is Meadow Avenue, both sides, from Grove Street to Oak Lane. The improvements are expected to include upgrades to existing sidewalks, installation of additional sidewalks, curbing, crosswalks, detectible warning systems, signage and shoulder widening and surface painting.
During Phase 1, Heim Construction will be working on the north side of Meadow Avenue between Oak Lane and Grove Street. Phase II will switch to the south side of Meadow Avenue in the same area.
"It's a temporary inconvenience," Leibensperger said. "But in the long term it will enhance the municipality and the neighborhood."