This notice, recently posted across the street from Geneva, is a sure sign of a new Route 18 to come. The state-funded highway relocation project, which will re-route the busy roadway around Geneva to eliminate the hazardous pathway it currently weaves through campus, is anticipated to end in November.
A large, orange-colored notice appeared the first week of May at the corner of State Route 18 and Fourth Avenue on College Hill: "Roadwork to begin 5-14-07." At a college where a straightened-out Route 18 has long been hoped and lobbied for in the interests of safety and community, the sign is getting a warm welcome.
"The posting of the sign is a very positive indication that this project will finally begin," said Jim Prince, Geneva’s vice president for operations. "After more than 50 years of conversation about moving the state highway, finally the day has come for the dream to be realized."
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) general contractor Lindy Paving and Geneva College have a positive working relationship, according to Mike Mangine, project manager for Lindy. All three entities plan to maintain good communication about critical dates and access issues during the road construction.
"We will be working closely with Lindy’s project manager to assure that coordination is done for traffic flow and access to our campus," Prince said. "Lindy has also requested a schedule of our summer-camp programs so that they can be sensitive to groups of people that might be impacted by the construction."
The first signs of activity will appear at the project’s northern edge, at the corner bordered by Pizza Joe’s and Geneva’s own Alexander Dining Hall. Preliminary survey work will be followed during the next six months by demolition, curbing, utilities and paving. Despite some minor holdups due to right-of-way issues, the highway project is still generally on schedule.
"Our completion date is right around November," Mangine said.
In the meantime, the Geneva community anticipates delving into the major phase of the Beyond the Bend campus improvements in 2008. Significant changes have already appeared at Reeves Field, where crews have just finished installing a durable and attractive artificial-turf field.
Workers put finishing touches on Geneva’s new turf at Reeves Field. The changes at the stadium mark the beginning of Geneva’s $7.5 million Beyond the Bend project, which coincides with the relocation of Route 18.
In addition to new bleachers and other stadium improvements, the $7.5 million Beyond the Bend project will include a pedestrian mall, arched entrance to campus and new landscaping.
"The only concern we have at this point relates to potential for cost overruns,” Prince said. “Construction costs have increased significantly since the start of the Beyond the Bend projects. The college is working hard to address those overruns; however, we are at the mercy of higher costs related to gas increases, concrete costs doubling, as well as other costs rising significantly higher than budgeted."
For more information about funding for Beyond the Bend, go to www.geneva.edu/object/beyond_the_bend.
Through the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Geneva offers the 3&3 Program enabling students to complete a B.S. and a M.Div. in only six years.