Highway planners study congestion at Route 220 and 405 intersection
HUGHESVILLE – By popular demand, highway planners met last month to discuss planning for the future of the intersection where Routes 220 and 405 meet. Now known as the “gateway to the Marcellus Shale”, and based on the traffic studies, this part of Hughesville has become largely congested, especially during peak times of the day, explained David Hamlet, Highway Design Operations Manager with Gannett Fleming.
Based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, his company collected the data throughout the summer and measured its level of service and how well the intersection functions. It was reported in May 2013 there are approximately 9,800 vehicles per day traveling on Rt. 220 north of Routes 220 and 405, and 8,600 to the west of the intersection. There are 9,600 vehicles per day that travel south on Rt. 405 and 600 on Race Street.
Working through PennDot and the Lycoming County Department of Transportation, representatives gathered to collect input from concerned residents who often use that part of the highway. “We identify and evaluate potential improvements that will reduce congestion on Route 405 and 220,” Hamlet said. The company anticipates future transportation programming and updates on the project. Several alternatives will be discussed and future meetings are set for January and early spring.
A survey of nine questions was completed at an open meeting for the public on September 17 at the Hughesville High School by more than 50 participants. In order to get more feedback and a more thorough understanding of the community’s viewpoints, the data from this questionnaire will be evaluated and taken into consideration before the next meeting. Asking how often the intersection is used and for what purpose, will also determine whether locals avoid the intersection entirely by taking other routes. PennDot asked the surveyors to describe the alternate routes. They also wanted to know how long of a wait one has, and “how many stopped vehicles are routinely in front of you waiting to travel through the intersection.”
Comments and suggestions were taken from area residents and business owners in the community. T Jay Cunningham, Assistant District Executive and highway designer with PennDot in Montoursville said that some of these alternative options will likely include additional turning lanes, right of way, signalization, roundabout, and some kind of realignment to intersect Race Street, Route 220 and Route 405 at a single intersection. “We may have to close Race Street,” Cunningham replied. Maps were on display to define the most congested traffic patterns. This occurs daily from 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and again from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. and most likely are “work trips” with a high number of turning vehicles during these peak periods. The intersection as a whole is over capacity during these times.
“A lot of disciplines will be taken into consideration,” assured Hamlet. “A similar study was done ten years ago for Route 405 and 442 intersection in Muncy,” said Mark Murawski, Director of Transportation with Lycoming County. “It has similar components.”
The purpose of the study is to develop potential improvements. So far the study revealed that those who live here avoid the intersection, more so in the late afternoon which shows the most congestion. “This questionnaire is one componeent of the information to find the best alternative,” Cunningham said. “The study defines the problem and possible solutions.”
As far as financing, that can be addressed once there is a solution, according to the planners. “The county considers this a very important intersection,” Murawski added, “and momentarily there are state funds for the study, but a limited budget from the federal.” Impact fees from the gas industry will also be part of this as well as Wolf Township and the Hughesville Borough according to Walt Reed, Hughesville mayor.
“There is no pre-judgement right now. We want to hear what the public says,” explained Murawski. “We need to consider various types of designs so all vehicles can use this,” said Hamlet. “This is enough for what we need to do. We will have a conceptual design to show in the spring.”
Additional questions or concerns can be forwarded to Mr. Chris Neidig, PennDot Project Manager at 570-368-4391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.