Route 19 makeover yields safer driving, better traffic flow
Along with smoother, swifter commutes for motorists, fewer car crashes followed PennDOT's $18.1 million makeover of Route 19 in Pine and McCandless.
“We have seen a substantial drop in accidents,” said Northern Regional Police Chief T. Robert Amann.
“Rear-end accidents have been reduced tremendously — to almost nonexistent — with the improved roadway, and center turning lane for both northbound and southbound traffic,” Amann said.
“With the (traffic) lights all being hooked into each other, there's very little traffic backup any longer.”
Amann also reported a reduction in the severity of traffic accidents on the busy highway.
“I want to commend PennDOT for what they did out here,” Amann said. “That stretch of highway has always been very, very, very unsafe.”
PennDOT's multi-year, two-phase facelift widened 2.33 miles of Route 19 — from 42 to 63 feet — to create a center turning lane between Longvue Avenue in McCandless and Wallace Road in Pine.
Crews started the project at the beginning of 2011 and wrapped up at the end of 2012.
“PennDOT is extremely pleased with the outcome of the Wexford Flats project,” said PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan.
“Not only has mobility been enhanced throughout the project corridor, but clearly, it is a much safer roadway for the 28,000 motorists who use it on a daily basis.”
In 2009 and 2010, the Northern Regional Police Department reported 40 traffic accidents at Church Road — near St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church — and Route 19 in Pine.
“In 2013, after the construction, we had seven (traffic accidents at the same intersection),” Amann said.
At Route 19 and Fieldview Drive — near Dunkin' Donuts — the number of traffic accidents dropped from nine in 2009 and 2010, to zero last year.
At Maple Drive and Route 19 — beside Burger King — the accident count similarly dropped from seven accidents in 2009 and 2010, to zero accidents last year.
“Last year we had one fatality, a motorcycle accident, at Route 19 and Brown Road,” Amann said.
At the same intersection, the number of vehicle crashes dropped from 30 in 2009 and 2010 to eight in 2013.
Showing the least reduction in car crashes is the intersection of Route 19 and Wallace Road in Pine. Police recorded 32 accidents at that junction in 2009 and 2010, compared to 27 accidents in 2013.
“That intersection just has so much traffic and people going in a 100 directions,” Amann said.
Amann also commended state House of Representatives Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, for supporting the Route 19 makeover.
“Everybody involved in this project should be commended. They did make the Wexford Flats area much safer with the improved roadway,” Amann said.
But speeders still pose a threat to fellow motorists on Route 19. “When people do get the green lights, we've seen people — not all — increase their speeds,” Amann said.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.