Safety issues created by Route 220 safety project
When representatives from the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) held the latest meeting regarding the safety improvements for the Route 220 corridor through Woodward Township, it was clearly evident they had no intention of taking questions from the residents regarding any concerns on the impact the project will have on those who live in the township.
While it has been presented as an effort to reduce the amount of incidents and fatalities upon closer inspection, the project is designed to create a more expedient flow of traffic moving through the township and this is the major problem.
Yes, reducing the number of entrances to the highway will help lesson challenges to a certain degree, but there are glaring problems which the new designs are creating and or ignoring.
Of the utmost concern are a lack of proper access to the southbound lanes for the fire and rescue crews. Forcing the crews to use the West Fourth Street exchange will add minutes to the runs these first responders are making.
Those are minutes that will mean a life or a loss of control in a fire consuming a home. There is no way around the subject. The fire crews need an immediate access directly across from the fire station to the southbound lanes. Lives will be lost and PennDOT needs to be held accountable.
Next and almost as equally important is the need to widen the shoulders in many place on both the north and southbound sides of the highway. There is not enough room for a vehicle to pull off the road to deal with breakdowns or flat tires.
We recently had an incident where two family members were killed as they tried to replace a flat tire.
With no shoulder to speak of (as the guide rail sits right on the edge of the pavement) these people were put in harm’s way.
The driver who struck them had no time to react and no room in the passing lane.
Had there been more space for the vehicle to get completely off the road, these two could very well be alive today. The shoulders throughout the township need to be reviewed and widened.
And for the farmers with their tractors who have to cross the highway to work their fields, there should also be a means for them to cross the highway without first having to drive their equipment on the highway for up to three miles, risking lives of everyone primarily because a distracted driver is on their cell phone and not paying attention to the road ahead.
To the PennDOT decision makers: Our road has actually been safer since the last round of improvements. While there have been accidents, those have not been caused by poor design (save for the lack of shoulder space) but by pedestrians who should not be on the highway or by drivers on their cell phones who are not paying attention.
If you are going to proceed with this project, at least give us wider shoulders on either side of the road, and give the emergency services personnel the access they need in order to save lives.