Intersection plans draw praise

GEESEYTOWN – Plans to create a signalized intersection at Frankstown Road and Route 22 drew praise Wednesday night from residents who believe the plans will be an improvement in safety.

“I think it’s definitely worthwhile because there have been so many accidents at that intersection,” East Loop resident Patty Neil said.

The plans also drew criticism from residents who say drivers heading west on Route 22 to Hollidaysburg are traveling too fast to stop.

“You got tri-axles and tractor-trailers on that road, going 50 to 75 miles an hour, and once they put in a traffic light, you’re going to see smash, crash and bam,” township resident and volunteer firefighter Mike Walls said.

A team of PennDOT personnel, during an open house at the Geeseytown Firehall, reviewed the plans with local residents for about an hour and tried to address concerns and questions.

Engineers say Walls’ concern can be addressed with a flashing light closer to Geeseytown, advising drivers to slow down because of the approaching signalized intersection. It will be a warning similar to the one on Route 22 east, outside Ebensburg, near Candlelight Drive, Penndot engineer Drew Frydrych said.

The current Route 22 and Frankstown Road intersection has already been identified as a high-crash area, so this project is focused solely on making that area safer, Project Manager Tracey Farabaugh said.

PennDOT’s plan calls for moving Reservoir Road about 250 feet east so it lines up with Frankstown Road. Drivers now make two sharp turns to get between Frankstown Road and Reservoir Road while observing and judging oncoming traffic traveling Route 22.

“There’s cars weaving in and out of their travel lanes now, with nothing controlling them,” project designer Chuck Meyers said.

Sue Mielnik, the owner of Mielnik’s Shopping Village in Frankstown, said she has seen the crashes near the intersection and believes PennDOT’s four-way signalized intersection will make a difference.

“They should have done this years ago,” Mielnik said.

The project, which Meyers estimated will cost between $7 million and $10 million, is following a timetable that calls for final design work to start this summer and continue through mid-2015. PennDOT expects to secure right-of-ways from 12 property owners through next year, then advertise for bids and start construction in 2016.

While Neil likes the proposed project, she said she’s not happy about a five-mile detour that will affect East Loop residents for an estimated two months during construction.

Walls said firefighters and ambulance crews are also concerned about that detour.

“Nobody likes change,” Frankstown Township Supervisor George Henry said, “But once the project is done, I think people will get used to it.”