Public checks out final decision for congested 220/405 intersection
HUGHESVILLE – PennDot has completed plans and announced a decision for the intersection of Routes 220 and 405 in the Hughesville Borough on Wednesday night, January 14 at the Hughesville High School.
Contractors from the engineering firm, Gannett Fleming explained the process through a power point presentation and why they in addition to PennDot chose the first of four alternative plans introduced earlier to the public on April 22, 2014.
Vice President Highway Section Manager, David Hamlet, from the Harrisburg based company provided the presentation and study update that will relieve the congestion and begin operations in March of 2018.
Traffic engineer, Mike Davidson, conducted a traffic study the week of May 20, 2013 that included crash data, peak hours, delays per vehicle and level of service.
Gannett Fleming also studied the situation and pavement conditions. Chris Neidig, PennDot Project Manager, reported 20 alternatives, “many eliminated quickly”, and carried forward four proposed alternatives. The average vehicle waits two to four minutes according to their findings, before crossing through the intersection. Normally, the average peak time delay should be approximately 35 to 50 seconds.
Also taken into consideration for the decision was a certain amount of growth time. “We had to make the design for the year 2040,” said Hamlet.
Alternative one was chosen because of its economical advantages. It has the smallest environmental footprint, and also requires the smallest amount of new pavement with the least amount of storm runoff. Alternative one also recruited the most votes from the public poll.
Much of the feedback from the public stated that they did not want to see Mill Street and Race Street become a major thruway for more truck traffic. Many agreed not to widen Race Street. Other comments and concerns regarded emergency vehicle access.
More detailed engineering and environmental work was needed for alternative 2, and Mill Street was too narrow for alternative three. Alternative four was eliminated because Race Street would no longer extend to Route 220 and “would require a relatively large amount of grading.”
Nicholas Siegl, Project Manager from Gannett Fleming, explained the engineering aspects of each of the 4 alternatives. “Alternative 2 would have to cut 60 feet out from the slope upward to rearrange Rt. 220. That would take 1,307 truckloads to move 19,600 cubic yards of rocky soil.”
A local business owner submitted a conceptual plan on May 12, 2014 that suggested a two way left turn, but was denied as it did not include an approach to Race Street. “It makes Race Street disconnected,” Siegl said. “A two way left turn is not a good expeniture.”
It was reported that the existing storm water management is old, undersized and inefficient. “Intersection improvements should minimize runoff.”
Alternative one was also chosen because it has the best sight distance and the least disruptive as Hamlet demonstrated utilizing a chart. The next phase will determine the right of way acquisitions, exact environmental impacts, permits, more traffic assessments and the final design which will include utility relocations.
Phase two will include demolition, staged construction of moving traffic, building shifting lanes, aligning traffic signal equipment, setting up signage and lighting, and finally managing drainage and storm water.
A concerned resident, Kelly Sprout, wanted to know about detours during construction and temporary lanes being stopped while under construction. Hamlet said this wil be taken into consideration during the design process. “It is important not to be negatively impacted by this construction process,” he told everyone.
Jim Feigles, co-owner of Dixie’s Gun Shop nearby, wanted to know about access to his gun shop for customers. The widening of the turning lanes will begin just past his shop. “We do not foresee much difference,” said Hamlet.
There will be three dedicated left turning lanes from Rt. 220. Hamlet explained further, “It is there for safety trying to get in and out of Hughesville. We are working with the borough so as not to increase Race Street traffic. The concern here is congestion and to keep turning traffic from blocking the continuous traffic flow.”
A very efficient red light will be placed to prevent traffic from being backed up on Main Street as well as turning lanes to move traffic through. “We do not anticipate any gridlocks.” The signal will calculate the time so as not to increase congestion in another area, such as Rt. 118. “A computer analysis will come up with the timings,” concluded Hamlet.