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New interchange proposal shared

June 05, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - More than a decade after the money was allocated, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has come up with a new alternative for a proposed Exit 7 it hopes will address objections raised by some local government officials and residents.

Alternative D Modified, as PennDOT calls the design, would remove the Walker Road overpass, moving it south 1,300 feet, where a new bridge and diamond interchange would be built. The cost of construction would be $7.8 million, Project Manager Bill Greene said Thursday.

"There are other design and environmental costs involved ... It's probably approaching $2 million," Greene said.

Greene Township Supervisor Paul Ambrose said his municipality has spent another $625,000 in legal fees fighting the interchange.

Transportation officials were at Faust Junior High School Thursday for an informational meeting on the new design. About 60 people attended.

Department spokesman Greg Penny said the design addresses objections raised two years ago that an earlier plan infringed on historical rural areas.

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U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., inserted $5 million in the 1987 federal highway bill for a demonstration project to show how an exit would relieve traffic problems.

"Just as it was proposed more than a decade ago, when traffic wasn't as heavy as it is in the late 1990s, the interchange will relieve traffic along U.S. 30 at the Exit 6 interchange," said Doug Harbach, a Greene Township resident and supporter of the interchange.

"There's more than a fair amount of constituents in my district in the north end concerned" about the amount and type of traffic this interchange will create, said Councilman Allen Coffman.

Coffman said he is also concerned that the interchange will open the north end to commercial, rather than residential, development.

Not all council members oppose the project.

Council President Bernard Washabaugh voiced his support during a closed meeting of federal, state and local officials before the public meeting, according to Ambrose and Penny.

"My biggest objection is that the infrastructure to support this exit doesn't exist," said Chambersburg resident Bert Vagnerini. He said neither Chambersburg nor Greene Township has plans to upgrade the roads near the proposed exit.

Penny said if the Federal Highway Administration approves the latest plan late this year, construction could begin in 2000 and the exit would open late that year.

He said substantial objections to the design or legal action could make that schedule slip.

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