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Jefferson Township intersection to be changed

| Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2002

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP: Supervisors have decided to proceed with proposed changes to the Bonniebrook Road/Route 356 intersection after eight months of consideration and a $4,500 traffic study.

The new intersection will be moved several hundred feet north from the current location along Route 356, across from the Durham School Services bus garage.

Bonniebrook Road will come to a 90-degree angle with Route 356, and the current intersection will be closed.

The cost for the changes was estimated at $20,000 a year ago, but Supervisor Jim Jones said he wasn't certain the figure still is accurate.

Supervisors have expressed several concerns regarding the current intersection:

  • Trucks and buses turning north onto Route 356 must swing into oncoming lanes of traffic to negotiate the sharp turn.

  • Vehicles making left turns onto Route 356 can back traffic up along Bonniebrook Road, causing problems for cars entering and exiting Penn United's driveway. The company's entryway is located on Bonniebrook Road near Route 356.

  • There is limited sight distance for traffic pulling onto Route 356, particularly to the north.

    After residents questioned the necessity of changing the intersection, supervisors hired Trans Associates, a Pittsburgh engineering firm, to conduct traffic surveys at the current intersection and make suggestions for improvement.

    In a recent report, the firm made three suggestions, all of which involved adding a traffic signal at the intersection. Two also called for relocating the intersection.

    Jones said he did not want to install a traffic light yet, and the signal will not be included in the approved plan.

    Of the two relocation plans, one called for two T-shaped intersections at Route 356 and Bonniebrook Road, essentially adding a short, perpendicular path that would connect the two roads. Several stop signs would be added at the intersections.

    The other plan — the one supervisors approved — calls for a curved lane added to southbound Bonniebrook Road for traffic going to Route 356. Cars still would be able to go straight to Penn United and other driveways without getting tied up in Route 356 traffic.

    Jones said the new intersection could require changes to several driveways, including Penn United and Durham. Jones said Penn United has another entryway farther south on Route 356, and it would be more convenient for trucks to use that entrance once the current intersection is closed.

    "Truckers are not going to make three or four more turns than they have to," Jones said. He also said if the driveway for Durham was moved north slightly, it would be directly across from the new intersection.

    Jones and Supervisor Tom Ferraro voted Monday to have township engineering firm R.B Shannon draw plans for the new intersection; Supervisor John Cypher is undergoing surgery and was not at the meeting.

    Bonniebrook Road resident Carol Freehling, who is opposed to the changes, said Jones should abstain from voting because of a conflict of interest. His brother, Carl Jones, owns Penn United and Freehling said the company was the impetus for altering the intersection.

    Jones disagreed, saying safety concerns were the catalyst.

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