Editorial: Progress or caution with turnpike proposal?
Development always seems like a good idea.
It’s expansion. It’s growth. And generally, yes, that can be great.
Our leaders are responsible not just to maintain the status quo but to keep an eye on the future. That means we have to grow. We need younger residents to feed the economy as the population ages. We need new workers to replace retirees. We need caregivers to support our sick or elderly.
The Westmoreland County Comprehensive Plan approved in December recognizes that, looking to increase growth in both population and the economy.
The proposed Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange in Penn Township would seem in line with that.
In a county struggling to grow, Penn Township seems poised to bloom. The Route 130 area where the turnpike commission has approved adding cashless ramps in the new 10-year plan is a good middle ground between the Monroeville exit on one side and the Irwin exit on the other. It has easy access to Greensburg and Murrysville.
So why is there any hesitation?
Because it is responsible for leaders not just to ask for what they believe would be best for a community but to question if the manner in which it is being done is appropriate.
“I don’t know what impact it will have if it goes through,” said Jeff Shula, president of the Penn Township Board of Commissioners.
That’s true. The roadwork done at that intersection this year has created long snarls.
Is it possible Route 130 can’t handle a greater influx of traffic? Widening the road could be a $38 million proposition that could hurt some businesses as much as it helps others. Does too much growth too fast make sense?
Shula is right to ask about the impact just as area legislators were right to advocate for the interchange’s inclusion on the long term plan. Both voices are necessary in a conversation to find answers.
But with the ramps on the plan, real conversations about the overlap of the roads — and the goals — can take off.