Exit swap generates little interest from council members

September 19, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A proposal to swap funding for an exit north of Chambersburg along Interstate 81 to the growing commercial area south of the borough failed to generate much interest among officials.

The Citizens for Planned Growth outlined their pitch at a recent Borough Council meeting, saying a provision in the federal funding would allow the money allocated for the Greene Township interchange - formerly known as Exit 7 - to be shifted to another project. They suggested an exit south of the borough, near the Target distribution center that is under construction.

"There was really no sentiment for swapping" the funds, Council President Bill McLaughlin said.

What council did decide at Tuesday's work session was that next week it would take action and request the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to look into an additional exit south of Chambersburg, McLaughlin said.


The residents requesting the funding swap had cited the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, which included language that would allow the funds for the exit to be used for any project in Franklin County or other parts of the 9th Congressional District, including Bedford, Blair, Centre and Huntingdon counties.

Borough Manager Eric Oyer said Tuesday the Borough Council has long supported Exit 7, and there is still a need for it.

The northern exit would relieve congestion along U.S. 30, particularly between Stouffer Avenue and the Interstate 81 interchange, Oyer said.

A 1995 PennDOT traffic study determined that the signal at Stouffer and U.S. 30 fails 14 hours out of a typical day.

"That was an unacceptable level of service in 1995. Things continue to get worse, not better," Oyer said.

"PennDOT's conclusions are as valid today as they were then, and the borough supports the exit at the current location," he said.

The PennDOT study also indicated a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in vehicles traveling the stretch of U.S. 30 by 2016 if nothing is done, and congestion levels would increase by more than 140 percent over the levels in 1995, according to Oyer.

Oyer said PennDOT arrived at three ways to relieve congestion including improvements to the parallel Wayne Avenue, which have been completed, improvements to U.S. 30 and a new exit at Walker Road, which alone would relive congestion by 24 percent, he said.

Oyer said studies show Chambersburg is a destination. He said 19,000 people work in the borough, with 15,000 of them coming from outside.

"The reason for an exit doesn't seem to have changed," he said.

The location of the proposed Exit 7, which would cut through farmland around Walker Road, has sparked years of legal challenges, which remain unresolved.

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