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Group seeks new interchange on I-81

Some residents want federal funds set aside for an exit in Greene Township shifted to add a new exit south of the borough,

Some residents want federal funds set aside for an exit in Greene Township shifted to add a new exit south of the borough,

September 16, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

Brown presented a statement of concerns signed by 20 residents of the Piney Grove community and members of the Citizens for Planned Growth that asked, among other things, for a new Interstate 81 interchange south of Chambersburg.

Brown recommended swapping the funds Congress approved in 1987 to construct an interchange in the area of Walker Road for the new exit.

Borough Manager Eric Oyer said he expects the council to consider all of the concerns Brown raised, including swapping the highway funds and curb and sidewalk issues, at Tuesday's public workshop.

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Local and business officials admit there will likely be a need for a new interchange as the area grows commercially but don't think the northern exit should be sacrificed.

"I don't think there is any question we will try to pursue development of an exit south of Chambersburg between Wayne Avenue and Marion, but not as an exchange or movement of Exit 17," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

As part of the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, language was inserted that would allow the funds for Exit 17, formerly known as Exit 7 before the renumbering of the exits last year, to be used for any project in Franklin County or other parts of the 9th Congressional District, including Bedford, Blair, Centre and Huntingdon counties.

Angelo Terrana, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th, said the congressman supports keeping the funds in Franklin County, whether they are used for an interchange north or south of the borough.

"Where the exit goes, we will leave up to state officials and the community to work out," he said.

Brown said tremendous development in the area of Wayne Avenue, including the Chambers-5 Business Park and the new Ingram, Kmart and Target distribution centers along I-81 warrant another exit in that area.

"Wayne Avenue is the main shopping area for the Chambersburg community, and the continued growth of the heavy tractor-trailer truck traffic in that area as well as Orchard Drive presents a significant traffic hazard," he said.

Ross said the business community is waiting for the final decision on the northern exit and then will pursue a southern exit.

He said it will be a minimum of two to three years before anything happens south of town because studies need to be done.

"I think intuitively we need it, but it is no way justified right now," Ross said.

The Borough Council has not formally considered an interchange south of the borough, but it has long supported an exit in the vicinity of Walker Road, Oyer said.

"That has been the borough's position and that stands," he said.

No progress has ever been made on an exit near Walker Road, which has been tied up in legal debate by residents opposed to its construction.

On behalf of the group, Brown requested Borough Council send a resolution to Shuster and other state and highway officials requesting the transfer of funds.

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