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County, Citicorp combine forces to light intersection near I-81

October 05, 2005|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County and Citicorp plan to install a full-color traffic signal at the intersection of Citicorp Drive and Mason Dixon Road at the Interstate 81 ramp, despite strong objections from one County Commissioner.

The majority of the commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement with Citicorp and Antrim Township, Pa. Mason Dixon Road is in the township.

Officials estimated the signal to cost as much as $110,000.

According to the agreement, Citicorp will pay $99,999 and the county will pay the remaining costs.

Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said later Tuesday he didn't think the signal would cost $110,000 and that Citicorp's contribution likely would cover the cost.

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Rohrer said Citicorp is paying for the project as part of a prior Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) arrangement with the county.

The county's APFO helps ensure roads, schools and other infrastructure are adequate to handle development.

As part of the agreement, the county will pay monthly operating costs of about $150, according to information included with the commissioners' meeting agenda.

"I think the amount of taxes we get out of Citicorp will cover that," Rohrer said during the meeting.

Later in the discussion, Commissioner John C. Munson, the only commissioner to oppose the agreement, said he didn't think the county should pay for the operating costs.

"We have no business putting money in a Pennsylvania road from now to eternity," Munson said.

Rohrer said there have been "nasty" accidents at the intersection because of traffic.

"But for Citicorp, this signal would not be needed," Rohrer said.

Citicorp spokesman Phil Kelly said traffic from Citicorp wasn't the only factor in accidents at the intersection. He said he once witnessed an accident there involving a station wagon and a Mennonite school bus, and neither of the vehicles was coming from Citicorp.

"We're not the only ones who use the intersection," Kelly said.

He said he anticipates the intersection becoming more of a problem as a result of planned development in the area.

Kelly said two traffic studies found a need for the full-color signal. Citicorp set aside money for the light in 1996. But because of legal issues, "it just never happened," he said.

Munson said many of Citicorp's employees work in Pennsylvania and Washington County doesn't benefit from that.

He also said Antrim Township officials told him a signal wasn't a priority with the township or state.

"So, I don't want to hear all this safety stuff ..." Munson said.

Rohrer said in an e-mail later Tuesday that Antrim Township's manager told him the need exists for the signal.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said at the meeting that Citicorp is one of the county's largest employers, with more than 2,000 employees. The company pays $587,797 a year in real estate taxes and $160,000 in personal property taxes annually.

"We're the recipient of ... the benefits of Citicorp," Snook said.

Commissioners Doris J. Nipps and James F. Kercheval said they agreed with Snook, shortly before the commissioners approved the agreement.

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