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Irwin officials concerned about PennDOT's Route 30 plans

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, 12:36 a.m.
A man walks past the baseball field at Irwin Park on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. Norwin area youth baseball officials envision turning a section of the park into a complex with two manicured ball fields, lighting for night games, bleacher seats and batting cages to accommodate the growing number of kids who want to play.
Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
A man walks past the baseball field at Irwin Park on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. Norwin area youth baseball officials envision turning a section of the park into a complex with two manicured ball fields, lighting for night games, bleacher seats and batting cages to accommodate the growing number of kids who want to play.

A proposed road that would connect Route 30 with downtown Irwin might affect Irwin Park as it slices through a section of the town's main park, borough officials fear.

Councilwoman Debbie Kelly this week said she was concerned for the safety of youths playing at the park's playground not far from the road PennDOT is considering to give a direct connection between Route 30 and downtown Irwin.

“I don't want to spend $125,000 on a new playground no one wants to be near,” Kelly said, referring to plans to build two playgrounds next spring near the amphitheater at the park.

Councilman Mike Yunn, who spearheaded efforts to land the grant, said the playgrounds are nowhere near the proposed road.

The Route 30 connector is part of PennDOT's proposed $100 million improvements to Route 30 from Tenth Street in Irwin to Route 48 in North Versailles. The direct connector from the westbound lanes of Route 30, west of Tenth Street, would travel over an unnamed tributary of Brush Creek and along the edge of the park. It would cut through the parking lot and connect with Pennsylvania Avenue at Oak Street, based on preliminary plans.

Many commuters use the parking lot and take buses to Pittsburgh.

The road is proposed for a lightly used section of the park, said Scott Thompson-Graves, project manager for Whitman, Requardt & Associates of Cranberry, the project's consulting engineer. The suggestion for the direct connector came from public input, he said.

While some council members expressed concern at the meeting about the impact of the connector, President John Cassandro said it was nice that PennDOT was giving the borough a “gateway” for traffic into town.

If built, the ramp off Route 30 would be about 1,000 feet in length and a bridge would have to be built over the creek at the park, said Lucien Bove, borough engineer. The borough could plant trees to create a buffer between the road and the park, Bove said. Irwin would be responsible for maintaining the road, he said.

The borough does need to consider the potential impact the connecting road would have on its one-way streets through downtown, Bove said. Traffic on Main Street travels south toward Pennsylvania Avenue, and vehicles on Oak Street, which is parallel to Main Street, travel north away from Pennsylvania Avenue.

Council approved using $68,364 from the H. Allhouse Fund to help pay for two playgrounds — one for children ages 2 to 5 and the other for ages 5 to 12. The borough received a $61,000 grant from Game Smart, the firm providing the playground equipment, which includes swings and slides, tunnel climbs and rock climbing.

Yunn said he hopes to have the playgrounds built in the spring. The money will be used to purchase the playground and not for covering the cost of construction, Yunn said. The playgrounds would be built by the borough's public works department.

Jim Halfhill, public works director, said the former Knights Kingdom playground at the park would remain closed.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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