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'19th-century' Pa. intersection to get makeover

April 30, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The long wait is nearing an end for those who have lobbied for years to have something done about the intersection of U.S. 30, Loudon Street and Sollenberger Road at the western edge of Chambersburg.

State Sen. Terry Punt said Thursday that he has secured the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's approval for a traffic signal and redesign for the intersection at the border of Hamilton Township and Chambersburg's west end.

"We've got 21st-century traffic and a 19th-century system," Borough Council President William McLaughlin said of the congested intersection where the three roads meet.

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"I've been in Chambersburg since 1976 and they were talking about doing something back then," he said during a news conference near the intersection.

The project, with an estimated cost of $212,500, must be adopted by the Pennsylvania Transportation Commission this summer and by the Federal Highway Administration in October, Punt said. He called both actions "formalities" and said design and engineering work will be done next year, with construction scheduled for 2006.

"We avoid it like the plague," Alan Barrows, a Hamilton Township resident, said of the intersection.

Barrow said he does not allow his 17-year-old son to drive there because of the dangers of making a left turn from Sollenberger onto Loudon Street.

"We've been waiting patiently for this intersection to become a safer environment," said Robin Barrows. The couple has lived in the area for 20 years, Alan Barrows said.

"There have been numerous accidents here and fatalities and I'm surprised something hasn't been done before," said Robin Barrows.

Hamilton Township Supervisor Randy Negley said reconfiguration of the awkward intersection will be part of the design and engineering work leading up to the installation of the signals. "One isn't good without the other," he said.

Like many roadways, the junction developed naturally over decades preceding the advent of the automobile and the configuration remained essentially unchanged after horses and oxen gave way to cars and trucks.

"They call that paving the cowpath" in computer parlance, Franklin County Commissioner Cheryl Plummer said.

Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said previous pleas to the Department of Transportation have not gotten results. "Penn-DOT essentially said there's nothing that can be done," he said.

"I really went to work on Penn- DOT, applying some effective communication," said Punt, the vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

"This is the only intersection left in the U.S. 30 project ... that hasn't been done," said Hamilton Township Supervisor Mike Kessinger.

As part of the U.S. 30 improvement program that Punt has been pushing for 16 years, several intersections in Franklin and Adams counties have gotten traffic signals.

Several major traffic projects are going on in the Chambersburg area. The widening of U.S. 30 east of Chambersburg recently began, as did work on the long-delayed Exit 17 project on Interstate 81. Construction of the extension of Norland Avenue to Walker Road is scheduled to begin late this year or in early 2005.

"We're going to have a lot of digging in the dirt in Franklin County along Lincoln Way and it's all going to be improvements," McLaughlin said.

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