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Mont Alto square plans taking shape

May 12, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

MONT ALTO, Pa. - The square in Mont Alto has never actually been shaped like a square, but it might become more of one through a proposal being engineered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

"When you pull up, it'd be more like a four-way" intersection, state Rep. Todd A. Rock said.

PennDOT would swap a portion of its state road for a piece of a local road, then straighten that local road out to improve traffic patterns, according to PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny.

Discussions about changing the square coincided with PennDOT's plans to resurface area roads this summer, Penny said.

"The borough owns the triangle and said, 'As part of the project, can we remove it for a safety improvement?'" he asked.

While repositioning the affected roads likely will not occur as part of the upcoming repaving, eliminating the triangle could happen in the next year or two, Penny said.

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Rock, a Republican who represents the 90th House District, grew up in Mont Alto and said he's had some close calls at the square.

Locally, "they've been looking at doing something at the square for the past 20 years because of all the accidents," Rock said.

Mont Alto Councilman Tom Lowson estimated there are three or four accidents weekly, although many are minor and not reported to police.

"It's a big safety issue. ... One of these days, somebody is going to lose their life down there," Lowson said.

"We want to try to get something to happen before that," Rock said.

The land swap would involve the state road on the south side of the triangle for the short, unnamed local road on the north side. The southern road would be closed to vehicles.

Although the area needs to be surveyed, Penny said initial plans are to straighten the whole stretch out to the bridge to the northwest.

Right now, "it's an intersection with five roads leading into it," Lowson said, describing it as "a horse-and-buggy square" originally built off an old store.

Motorists northbound on Pa. 997 currently have the confusing options of turning left at the state road or the little local road, Rock said.

Rock said that since past proposals for traffic lights and four-way stop signs were nixed, the latest idea "may not be the complete solution, but a big help."

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