North Huntingdon residents, business owners pan PennDOT plans for Route 30
The state’s plans to install jersey barriers on Route 30 from the western end of North Huntingdon to Route 48 will eliminate left-hand turns by creating jug-handle turnarounds, a move designed to increase safety.
“It is a waste of time and money. No way is it better,” North Huntingdon resident David Smith said after viewing the preliminary design of the project this week.The plan is to widen Route 30 from Route 48 to the Carpenter Lane-Leger Road intersection but restrict left turn lanes along the busy highway.
Smith joined several others at the Hartford Heights Fire Hall on Wednesday in complaining that the proposed concrete barriers separating the eastbound and westbound lanes will require motorists to travel past their destination before they can turn around to the other side of the road. When he comes home from his job at the U.S. Post Office in Greensburg, Smith said the new design will force him to pass by the turn to his home and go to Route 48 before he can turn around, adding about a mile to his commute.
“Route 30 is terrible to drive on, but putting up walls is not going to solve the problem,” Smith said.
Rachel Duda, assistant district executive for PennDOT’s District 12 based in Uniontown, said the design to eliminate left turns is done with safety in mind. Eliminating vehicles stopping in the passing lane to make left turns, or preventing motorists from making left turns from side streets, would prevent the “angle crashes” that are among the most severe, Duda said. The state is adding more jug-handle turnarounds in that section of the road — every half mile — than it usually does, Duda said.
“We’ve designed this the best way we can,” Duda said. PennDOT has reviewed the plans with local officials and various stakeholders, she added.
PennDOT is working with an engineering firm, Whitman, Requardt & Associates L.P. of Robinson, on the preliminary engineering and design.
“It’s a very delicate balance” to make the road as safe as possible without adversely impacting businesses, Duda said.
One businessman not pleased with the design to improve safety was Hitesh Mehta, owner of Huntingdon Inn Hotel. He said westbound motorists would have to pass his hotel and turn around at a site of another hotel.
“This is very bad. I am dead (business-wise) ‘cause another motel is there,” Mehta said.
Hartford Heights Assistant Fire Chief Mark Gibag said building barriers to separate traffic may force the fire department to drive to the scene of an accident by driving the wrong way on the highway. It also may delay some firefighters from reaching the department in a timely manner, Gibag said.
To make the highway safer with a concrete barriers, the road will be widened to accommodate a four-foot shoulder on both sides of the barrier. Travel lanes will remain 12-feet wide, Duda said. Acquiring rights of way and moving utilities could take a year to 18 months, she said.
Duda declined to estimate the cost of improving that two-mile stretch, which will cover Route 30 from the 10th Street intersection in Irwin to about a quarter mile west of Route 48. A PennDOT official recently estimated costs could range from $40 million to $80 million. The project that could be advertised for bids in 2023.
The cost of improving the entire 5.5-mile length of the corridor, from Irwin to North Versailles, could cost between $100 million and $140 million, Duda said. The rest of the project might be split in two or three sections, with the work moving eastward toward Irwin, Duda said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .