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Opinion

Route 31 Committee's suggestions are valid

| Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2001

It's likely that nobody knows more about the problems and potential for problems on a particular stretch of road than the very people who travel it most frequently.

It makes sense, then, that those responsible for presenting testimony to the state for inclusion in its development of a 12-year highway plan, consider the input offered by a local group relative to Route 31.

The Route 31 Committee, organized by the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce, recently outlined what it considers 'problem areas' on Route 31, a heavily-traveled road between Mount Pleasant and nearby mountain communities in Westmoreland and Fayette counties. The group presented its suggestions to Westmoreland County Transportation, the group responsible for presenting testimony to PennDOT.

The Route 31 Committee identified the following 'problems' and suggestions for how to rectify them:

  • The turnpike interchange onto Route 31 at Donegal. The committee feels the intersection would be made safer with the construction of a left turn lane from Route 31 to the interchange.

  • The Route 711-31 intersection near PNC Bank in Donegal. The committee suggests either a traffic control light or a left turn lane off the Route 31 eastbound lane.

  • Route 31 near Donegal Highlands Campland. The committee says a left turn lane near the campground would alleviate problems caused by restricted visibility.

  • The Route 711-31 intersection near Sarnelli's Market. The intersection would be made safer, the committee feels, with a turning lane from Route 711 to Route 31.

    The committee's concerns are nothing new. According to Donegal Township Supervisor Tom Stull Jr., these issues have been a source of concern for the 12 years he's been in office.

    State Rep. Jess Stairs, who lives a few miles up Route 31 from Donegal in nearby Acme, supports the committee's suggestions. He noted that Donegal and several of the nearby mountain communities Route 31 serves are growing rapidly, bolstered by an ever-increasing tourism base. He said adding turning lanes now will help prepare the road to safely handle any further increases in traffic.

    'It's best to be proactive and start planning for the added cars now,' Stairs commented.

    Westmoreland County Transportation will put together a package of highway projects and present them later this month before the State Transportation Committee and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. Those two agencies will then recommend a package of highway projects for Gov. Tom Ridge's approval. If it is approved, it will then go before the Federal Highway Commission for its approval, which would then send the projects to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for inclusion in its 12-year highway plan.

    We agree that the Route 31 Committee's suggestions are valid. Whether or not they warrant inclusion in the state's plan remains to be seen. Road projects are being formulated and presented all over southwestern Pennsylvania.

    Still, the four proposals for Route 31 near Donegal should, without a doubt, be presented as testimony by Westmoreland County Transportation to the state, which we trust will strongly consider their validity.

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