PennDOT eyes 2015 for start of curve improvement near United High School
Spring or summer of 2015 is the target date for construction to begin on proposed realignment of a section of Route 56 in East Wheatfield Township.
The project is intended to reduce the severity of a large S-curve located between Armagh Borough and the United School District campus.
PennDOT unveiled drawings of the proposed United High School Curve Project at an open house event Oct. 2 at the high school.
PennDOT officials indicated safety is the primary factor driving the estimated $6.8 million project, noting that many coal trucks have overturned through the years while attempting to negotiate the curve.
Also, according to Mark Rozich, civil engineer manager for PennDOT Engineering District 10-0, entrances to the school campus, which straddles the highway, and two other major facilities along the 1.2-mile stretch of road are to be realigned to further enhance traffic safety.
As currently planned, the entrance lane to the United Elementary School would be shifted to line up with the intersection of Shellbark Road, which serves as the main entrance to United High School on the opposite side of the highway.
Further east in the project zone, entrances to the East Wheatfield Township office and garage and to a sewage treatment plant would be improved.
Superintendent Barbara Parkins indicated United school officials are pleased that the project will include a turning lane to assist motorists making left turns into the district schools — reducing the hazard of rear-end collisions. But, she said, project planners indicated conditions at the site don't support the district's request to have the intersection controlled by a traffic signal.
Rozich said the project also will improve the sight distance for motorists exiting from the schools by reducing the crest of a hill directly to the west that limits the view of oncoming eastbound traffic.
Some owners of properties at the eastern end of the project zone expressed concern about how recontouring of the highway might affect their land.
According to Rozich, much earth-moving will be involved, including cutting back an embankment along the eastbound lane of the highway that consists of waste from a previous strip-mining operation. When the project is finished, he said, several adjoining properties will be more level with the roadway than they currently are.
The speed limit on the stretch of highway is to remain at the existing 45 mph.
Rozich said construction of the project likely will stretch over two years, with work scheduled to have the least impact on the school district. He said a temporary traffic detour might be called for, as was the case in a recently completed highway improvement further west on Route 56, near Brush Valley.
At least one temporary roadway is planned, near the entrance to the sewage plant. Rozich said it is too soon to tell if one residential structure might be displaced as a result of the project.
When PennDOT widened and realigned a nearby stretch of Route 22, several sections of the old highway that were bypassed were turned over to local townships.
In the case of the Route 56 Curve, Rozich said, planners are hoping to simply vacate the bypassed portion of the highway and turn it over to owners of adjoining private properties rather than to the township.
He noted the section to be bypassed “only serves one or two individuals.”
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.