Northern route unlikely

The issue that JaNean Karlie discussed with the Antis Township supervisors last week isn’t unique to the area in which she lives.

Development oftentimes triggers impacts beyond what are envisioned or intended.

For Karlie and those who reside near her, recent construction has resulted in much more traffic using streets near her Sabbath Rest Road home. She told supervisors the traffic volume has become “horrendous.”

She attended the supervisors’ meeting to urge those officials to become vocal advocates for revival of a plan to build what years ago was called the Altoona Northern Access Extension — a roadway to connect Altoona’s Juniata neighborhood with I-99’s Pinecroft interchange.

The idea for that connector goes back to at least the 1990s, when it was included in PennDOT’s District 9 10-year plan.

However, it subsequently was removed, probably in part due to its estimated $100 million cost and partly because of disagreement over the project corridor.

To Blair County residents old enough to remember, the dormant extension project might evoke recollection of another project — Route 22 East — that has remained shelved for more than 40 years due to controversy over its proposed corridor.

It would have added a limited access highway from the Route 22/I-99 interchange to the Huntingdon County line, bypassing Duncansville and Hollidaysburg.

This county is fortunate in having I-99 as well as a modern, limited-access Route 22 running west from the Duncansville area to the Cambria County line. However, a new, modern Route 22 East, while being a transportation godsend for places such as Williamsburg and even Martinsburg, also would open that area to many possible economic benefits.

Antis officials weren’t wrong in accepting Karlie’s request that they look into the possibility of reviving interest in the extension, especially since President Donald Trump has proposed a $1 trillion national infrastructure-improvement initiative. However, the extension, and even Route 22 East, are unlikely to have hope under that federal effort since neither would meet Trump’s stated criteria of funding only shovel-ready projects.

Antis officials should be trying to find other solutions for the traffic issue about which Karlie and, presumably, others in her area are concerned.

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