County looks to get multimodal, Cornplanter work back on track

Two Venango County construction projects in downtown Oil City – Cornplanter Square and the multimodal transportation hub – came to a halt last month due to work shutdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

At Cornplanter Square, the old windows had been taken out of the former Mellon Bank building at Seneca and Center streets when Gov. Tom Wolf shut down construction on March 19.

Emily Lewis, the executive director of the Venango County Economic Development Authority, said Tuesday it took about a week and a half to get an emergency order for the window replacement crew to secure the building so the elements and birds couldn’t do damage.

After that, Lewis said it took a little over a week for crews to have the protective equipment and other things they needed to get on site so they could put in windows or cover open window frames with plastic.

Lewis said construction will begin again Friday on the roof, and installation will continue on the windows and doors.

“This will push the finish timeline back,” Lewis said. “It’s not ideal but it’s nothing major. Luckily we have most of the construction season still ahead of us and we will be able to finish up the project (of installing the windows and putting on the new roof),” Lewis added.

The only effect the delay will have on funding for the project is it will take longer for the county to be reimbursed, said Jason Ruggiero, executive director of the Venango County Regional Planning Commission.

Meanwhile, Ruggiero said the county is waiting for official word from PennDOT as to when work can start again at the multimodal hub on Elm Street, but he expects it will be soon.

Crews were finishing the foundation and the building was beginning to take shape when the project was shut down.

Before resuming the project, each contractor will have to submit a COVID-19 safety plan.

Ruggiero said that after losing five weeks he didn’t know if the project would get back on track or not. He added that the delay won’t affect funding for the building, which is coming mostly from PennDOT.