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PennDOT to add 2nd turn lane

Frankstown Road intersections to be improved in 2024

About 25 public officials, business owners and residents attended a PennDOT plans display Wednesday on safety and convenience improvements for the three-quarter-mile stretch of Frankstown Road between Plank Road and Amelia Avenue.

“I think it’s a big step forward,” said Logan Township Supervisor Joe Metzgar. “They’ve done their homework.”

In that corridor, where there are an inordinate number of accidents, there will be changes that ensure traffic moves through more cleanly, that eliminate troublesome issues with opposing left-turn movements and that provide accommodations for pedestrians, according to PennDOT officials — who said attendee opinions were uniformly positive.

Workers will add a second left turn lane for Frankstown Road traffic turning left onto Plank Road, to alleviate frequent backups that reach past Tennyson Avenue, which is directly across from the entrance to Pleasant Valley Shopping Center, according to PennDOT Project Manager Jaclyn Himmelwright and engineering consultant Jim Katsafanas of Michael Baker International.

Elsewhere, workers will carve a little bit off the median barriers in Frankstown Road so traffic turning left out of Park Avenue and out of the northbound exit ramp of I-99 on the opposite side will have more room to swing onto Frankstown Road more quickly, thus providing more space between the streams of traffic, Himmelwright and Katsafanas said.

It will be especially important when large trucks are involved, they said.

Project designers will solve a similar — and even more severe — problem at Amelia Avenue involving vehicles turning left out of the avenue and those turning left out of the Sheetz lot on the opposite side.

But they’ll use a different strategy.

There, workers will install traffic lights set so that traffic on each side will turn left independently of the traffic on the other side, officials said.

In addition, workers will construct a sidewalk on the Garden Heights side of Frankstown Road between Eveningtide and Tennyson avenues, a distance of two blocks.

And workers will add “queue detection” signal lights at Park Avenue that will automatically allow for more continuous evacuation of heavy traffic after ball games at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

That should eliminate the need for the current manual manipulation of the lights after games, officials said.

That proposed change was in response to a request for help from the Altoona Curve, officials said.

The crashes that occur along the corridor with more frequency than normal include rear-end collisions indicative of congestion, angle crashes that result from left turns onto side streets and traffic exiting side streets, crashes from running red lights and sideswipes, officials said.

The project will include signage to warn drivers descending Frankstown Mountain that if they want to go straight, they need to get out of the right lane, Metzgar said.

The project will include an asphalt overlay and drainage improvements, according to the PennDOT officials.

PennDOT hopes to complete final design this year, advertise for bids and award contracts next year and complete construction in 2024, Metzgar said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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