Resident pushes plan for Pinecroft bypass

BELLWOOD — A long-abandoned road project planned to connect Altoona to I-99’s Pinecroft interchange received renewed interest from an Antis Township woman Thursday evening when she asked local officials to urge construction of the project that was first discussed in the late 1990s.

JaNean Karlie told Antis Township supervisors that recent construction has diverted traffic to streets near her Sabbath Rest Road home.

“I live off of I-99, and the traffic is horrendous,” she said. “We need this bypass, very much so.”

The bypass she referred to is known as the Altoona Northern Access Extension — a PennDOT project that was once planned to connect Altoona’s Juniata neighborhood to the Pinecroft interchange.

The first references to Altoona Northern Access in the Mirror online archives date to the late 1990s.

PennDOT officials did not return a Friday morning request for information about the project. However, local PennDOT spokeswoman Tara Callahan-Henry said the project likely has not been discussed for more than a decade.

Antis Supervisor David Worthing agreed with that assessment.

“It’s my understanding that PennDOT took that off of their 10-year plan some years ago,” he said. “I don’t think it’s been revisited.”

But that doesn’t mean officials can’t give the project a second look, Karlie said.

Karlie recently visited a local lawmaker’s office to discuss the issue and said she was told to bring her concerns to the Antis supervisors.

On Thursday, she asked supervisors to contact PennDOT, as well as officials affiliated with a local metropolitan planning organization to request that the project be revisited.

“I want you to bring it up to PennDOT … to look into northern access,” she told supervisors, asking that they “make it a priority.”

On Friday, Callahan-Henry could not offer a reason for the project’s previous abandonment, but from prior Mirror articles, it appears cost could have been a factor. A 2005 article references a “$100 million northern Altoona access to Pinecroft.”

Karlie said she believes cost was an issue but only because the wrong plan — out of several offered — was selected.

“They canceled that out because of the expense. It’s too expensive,” she said, displaying a 2003 map showing a number of proposed routes and pointing out her favorite.

Township manager Lucas Martsolf said he will contact officials associated with the former project.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.