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Solution sought for dangerous road

Residents speak out on Woodbury Pike, Cross Cove Road intersection

At first glance, there’s nothing that stands out about the crossroads of Route 36 and Cross Cove Road to indicate it’s a dangerous intersection, apart from the blinking traffic lights.

Residents of the area know differently.

“It’s sad,” said Jerome Dodson, who lives about a mile from the intersection. “You hear the sirens and just wait to hear if it was a fatality.”

Dodson pointed out the intersection has a long history of serious and deadly crashes. The latest crash claimed the life of a 77-year-old driver.

“People are just getting tired of the wrecks and nothing being done,” said Dodson, a former Taylor Township supervisor. Dodson and his wife Robin started an online petition at https://www.petitions.net/rt36intersection to have a traffic signal with stop lights installed, with so far 320 people signing onto the idea.

In the past five years, from 2015 through 2019, two people have lost their lives in crashes at the intersection, according to PennDOT. In all, there were 16 crashes in that time frame, with as many as nine injuries.

Dodson questions the numbers and thinks there have been more deaths and injuries than was tracked.

Currently, there is only a yellow blinking light for traffic on Route 36 — also known as Woodbury Pike — and a blinking red light for the Cross Cove Road drivers.

Dodson said while getting a full traffic signal installed at the intersection was discussed while he was on the board of supervisors, all the costs would have fallen on the township.

That’s even if the intersection meets the criteria for one, something that would have to be determined by the PennDOT after a traffic study. The cost of the study, several thousand dollars, would also go to the township.

Joe Dilling, a current township supervisor, said he’s wanted to get a light at the intersection for at least the past five years.

Dilling said the township has already applied for grant money to install danger signs and flashing lights to get people to brake as they approach the intersection, but he said it’s not certain if the intersection would even qualify for a traffic light or even if that would be the best solution.

Still, he said something has to be done to cut down on the number of crashes.

“Everybody knows it’s a dangerous thing,” he said. “What do you do next? Hey, if we can’t get a light, let’s do something better than what is there now.”

What makes the intersection so dangerous isn’t apparent unless you’re a frequent driver on the road, residents say.

“We know speed’s a factor on that road,” Dodson said. “And paying attention.”

There’s also a “dip” just south of the intersection on Route 36 that can trick drivers into thinking it’s clear to turn or drive across the highway, said Chad Bowers of Woodbury.

Bowers was seriously injured in a 2014 head-on crash with a driver turning left onto Cross Cove Road from the southbound lane of Route 36 as he drove north on Route 36 one morning in March 2014.

Bowers injuries included a broken neck, pelvis, wrist and two shattered knee caps, and after a week in the hospital, including 1.5 days in intensive care, he required four weeks of inpatient rehabilitation at a facility.

“There’s a dip — and you can’t see it — and I think that’s part of the problem,” Bowers said. The dip in the road isn’t apparent and what looks like a clear road to oncoming traffic in the southbound lane or to driver’s stopped on either side of Cross Cove Road is only a momentary illusion.

“Personally, I don’t think a straight red light would do anything,” Bowers said, noting that dedicated left-turn lanes where traffic had to stop on red and wait for a green light would probably be the only way to really make a difference.

Monica Jones, spokeswoman for PennDOT District 9, said while PennDOT has no specific traffic study information for the intersection, “We continuously review how better signage, traffic signals, etc., can be used to improve awareness of the area.”

Dodson and Dilling both pointed out that there has been money available to redesign the intersection of Route 36 and East Main Street and Route 164 in Roaring Spring.

A roundabout was considered for that location, but instead, a right and left turn lane will be added, according to PennDOT. That project is slated for 2024 and PennDOT is currently finalizing the consultant agreement to start engineering activities, Jones said.

Dodson said he has notified the township that he will be attending the board of supervisor’s next meeting on Oct. 5 to ask about getting a traffic light.

“If it saves a life, I don’t know how they could question it,” Dodson said. “If a light isn’t the solution, then come up with it.”

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.

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