The last week of August can’t come too soon for Betty Smith.
That’s the deadline for to be completed on the Tilghman Street bridges less than a quarter mile from her company, , in Upper Macungie.
The detours, which take motorists off Tilghman Street have been confusing and frustrating for some of her customers. A map of the detours is attached.
“We have been affected, particularly for propane barbeque cylinder refills,” Smith said Tuesday. “It’s a significant drop-off. Our walk-in trade is down.”
Diane Drabinsky, showroom chef at Trexler-Haines, said a customer who called last week planned to come in Saturday to look at a gas grill. She heard from him later. “He did try to come out here Saturday morning and he got lost with all the detours,” Drabinsky said. “And he bought the grill somewhere else.”
Other businesses close to the detour say they have also been affected.
“I wish the detours were a little bit better,” said Rosa Basile, part owner of Restaurant, which is next door to Trexler-Haines. “Some of my customers are having trouble getting around the detour.”
“Weekdays you see less [customers],” Basile said. “On the weekends, we pick up.”
The project began on March 12 and the detours started April 5. The Chester County contractor, J.D. Eckman Inc., hired by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, is replacing the Tilghman Street Bridge over Chapmans Road and replacing the deck and beams on the Tilghman Street bridge over Norfolk Southern Railroad. Both spans are structurally deficient, according to PennDOT.
Smith, who is CEO of Trexler-Haines, which sells propane, grills and other appliances, said she understands that the bridges need replacing. She just wishes the detours were marked better.
Ron Young, a spokesman for PennDOT District 5, said that at the request of people who work or live along the detours, PennDOT has put up extra signs telling trucks where to get off of Route 100 to get to the other end of Tilghman so as to avoid secondary roads.
As for drivers having trouble following the detour to get to the businesses, he said it’s possible motorists are trusting their GPS systems rather than the detour signs and getting lost.
“We find that whenever we have closures, some people ignore or don’t see or for whatever reason don’t follow the signs,” Young said.
If people who use the route or work along it have specific suggestions or concerns about the detour signage, they can submit them to PennDOT District 5 here.
Kyle Montgomery, manager of in the Iron Run Center, said that Tilghman in front of the restaurant near Route 100 gets so backed up between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. that customers have trouble getting in and out of the parking lot.
Ed Rau, owner of a few stores down from Joe’s Pizza III, said his customers have the same problem during rush hour. “The line of traffic down Tilghman is continuous,” he said.
Summer is normally his busiest time and he’s concerned that customers won’t want to put up with the inconvenience and will go elsewhere.
The construction contractor has an extra incentive to complete the work on time. If the project isn’t finished by Aug. 30, the contractor must pay PennDOT $2,085 per day for every workday after that, Young said.