Sam Morris / Snapper. Millersville is undergoing some construction.

Sam Morris
Staff Writer

Residents and Millersville University students and staff are wondering why street construction has taken over the intersection of W. Frederick and S. Duke Streets for more than three months.

The Millersville Borough Street Department issued a construction notice on July 18, stating the project was expected to take two to three months starting on July 25. Yet another month or more should be anticipated by the surrounding community.

“They’re hoping to have all of the pavement wrapped up by the thirteenth [of October],” Andy Boxleitner, Millersville Borough Street Department Superintendent, says. “We should have the intersection open temporarily, just the Frederick Street part, for the parade and homecoming.”

Although the paving is supposed to be finished soon, that does not complete the required work.

“Our biggest issue will be a Verizon pole that’s not gonna be moved any time real soon,” Boxleitner says. “We do not have the authority to open it [the intersection] up with that pole there. We’re gonna have to get that through PennDOT. Whether they give that to us or not we don’t know at this point.”

The absence of an official deadline for the roadwork leaves Millersville residents and the university in a state of curiosity, with many questioning the ultimate goal of the construction project. 

According to Boxleitner, the construction was issued as a preventative measure for aging infrastructure which is occurring throughout Lancaster County, where there have been multiple water main breaks in recent years. The sewer and water lines along Frederick Street, in particular, were installed in the 1940s, and Boxleitner notes that they had accrued “obvious aging” and were “in pretty bad shape”.

In the Summer of 2023 alone, two water main breaks affected thousands of Lancaster County residents, with one in early June and another in late August. These issues arose two years after the City of Lancaster addressed national problems with aging infrastructure in a document made available to the public on Sept. 30, 2021. This document was in response to rising water rates in the area in which they state that across the country, there are “more than 240,000 water main breaks every year.”

Residents and members of the university community can acknowledge that the ongoing road work in Millersville has contributed to maintaining safety. Nevertheless, some may wonder about the timing of these improvements.

When construction begins on a major university road, it may be natural for questions to arise. However, the timing, particularly during the beginning of the fall semester, prompts consideration of logistical factors.

“It’s right where I would need to drive every single day,” Taya Puffenberger, a commuting Millersville University student, says. “It turns what would be a one- or two-minute drive to class for me into 10 minutes because I have to drive all the way around it.”

Numerous commuting students who reside off-campus share Puffenberger’s sentiments. She adds, “I expected it to be done a lot faster than it has been. Everybody is annoyed about it.”

The tight time frame between the conclusion of the spring semester and the commencement of the fall term poses a unique challenge for construction projects. This limited time frame requires careful planning and efficient execution to ensure projects are completed efficiently.

“Between when college gets out in the spring and college starts in the fall there’s only a couple month window there that we try to do as many projects as possible in our budget,” Boxleitner notes. “But it doesn’t always work out.”

In addition to the time constraints, Boxleitner highlights that securing permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Transporation (PennDOT) and encountering various challenges during the bidding process further disrupted construction plans

The ongoing construction on the prominent university intersection has prompted a wave of inquiries from residents and the university community alike. While the project timeline has extended beyond initial expectations, it’s imperative to recognize the goal of addressing aging infrastructure, particularly in light of recent water main breaks in Lancaster County. 

Despite the challenges posed by a short summer timeframe, the bidding process, and receiving PennDOT permits, efforts are underway to accelerate the construction process while ensuring the future safety and convenience of all who locally reside. As the project nears its completion, both the university and the local community eagerly await the opportunity to make use of the intersection once again.