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New PSU traffic needs further tweaking

The problem with traffic into and out of Beaver Stadium is not an easy puzzle to solve.

Years ago, Beaver Field was moved to the current location of Beaver Stadium, to allow for growth and expansion. That was 1959. The stadium held just over 46,000 fans. There was no I-99. There was no Bryce Jordan Center (1996). There was no Medlar Field (2006). There was no Visitor Center or Sports Museum.

The results of all the expansions (the stadium now can hold over 110,000) is that there are fewer areas near the stadium to park and more fans to find parking spaces. Outside of I-99, the roads are basically unchanged coming into the stadium, even though more than twice the fans must now enter and exit.

The completion of I-99 was a godsend to fans travelling any distance to get to State College. I still remember sitting at the traffic light in Port Matilda for sometimes hours back in the 1970s and ’80s. Now you can get from Altoona to State College in 35 minutes. (I may drive faster than the average Lion.)

But that is where the traffic flow becomes a problem.

Why did they not put an exit/entrance ramp for I-99 at Fox Hollow Road? That should have been a priority, to allow two exits off the main artery into the stadium, not to mention access to the airport from I-99. You can get to Fox Hollow Road via Toftrees, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to send that high of a volume of traffic through a circuitous and residential route.

Keep it simple, stupid.

An exit off I-99 and widening Fox Hollow Road to four lanes up to the stadium is a bare minimum to solving this problem. Widening Park Avenue from the stadium to the I-99 ramp — two lanes each way with a center turning lane (5 lanes leaving the stadium) after the game — would also make a lot of sense, even if it is only necessary for seven days a year.

My trips into the stadium thus far this year have been some of the smoothest ever — I come in the north route, getting off at Toftrees and then coming in on Fox Hollow Road, a right onto Park Avenue and a left a block later, and I am in Lot 18 easy peasy.

Getting out? Well, let’s just say they fumbled the ball on this.

Instead of allowing me to go back the way I came in –which is the fastest way to get from point A (my parking space) to point B (I-99) — the powers that be thought sending us all out onto Park Avenue to Atherton would be a good idea.

What in the wide, wide, world of sports were they thinking?

First off, Park Avenue starts out as three lanes, but then they blocked the right lane forcing a bottleneck into two. Penn State’s consultant should be fired and required to reimburse them if they even suggested this is an improvement.

If you want to improve flow, you need to go from three lanes to four. But I digress.

If you insist on dumping half of Beaver Stadium onto Atherton, then at least please make all the lights blinking yellow lights for through traffic until after the stadium traffic clears. I’m sorry if the local Walmart shopper can’t get out onto Atherton. That’s why we are forced to pay an impact fee for out tickets.

Local traffic should be impacted — not the stadium traffic.

When I questioned the decision to divert traffic away from the intersection of Park Avenue and Fox Hollow Road, I was told that they were, on paper, “improving pedestrian safety and traffic flow.”

We already know that traffic flow has not improved, and I was not aware of any specific pedestrian issues. I have certainly never heard of a pedestrian being killed at a Penn State game, let alone seriously injured. Yet, this has become an issue forcing traffic patterns to be worsened.

No traffic beyond University Drive (on the stadium side) should be exiting toward Atherton, unless you actually want to go that direction to get on 26 or 45. If there is a pedestrian problem then how about building pedestrian bridges or tunnels? With over a billion dollars in endowments, I think we should be able to find some funding for that.

It also would be ideal to eliminate noon starts. God knows, the team doesn’t seem ready to play that early. I know, it’s dictated by TV but PSU and the Big Ten have enough smart lawyers that they should be able to include clauses to control how many noon starts are allowed for games with larger crowds expected.

Late starts allow traffic to flow in over a longer period of time, reducing back-ups with early games where the same number of people must travel the same distance over a shorter period of time.

It’s never going to be perfect just because of the volume of cars and RVs, the timing of games, the need to coordinate pedestrian flow as well as emergency vehicles and weather conditions which will affect traffic directly with bad road conditions and indirectly if certain lots are closed.

Todd A. Sponsler

Hollidaysburg

For Steelers, season not yet lost

The Steelers have started their season 0-3, Ben Roethlisberger is on IR, and if that’s not enough, they traded away their first-round pick for 2020.

The last time the Steelers started 0-3 was 2013, and they ended up winning eight games and placing second in the AFC North. Can they dig themselves out of the hole again this year?

Mason Rudolph made his first career start versus the 49ers, subbing for the injured Roethlisberger.

Rudolph had 14 completions in 27 passes, 174 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He performed well for his first NFL start, but he needs improvement in accuracy.

Another Steeler who needs to step up is James Conner, who only has 97 yards in 34 carries, a 2.9 rushing average. His fumble was quite costly last week at San Francisco.

The entire Steelers team has some work to do if they want to get back into playoff contention.

However, there is a glimmer of hope with the Steelers defense.

Newly acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick had a great first game with five tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. He looks like a good fit. In the Steelers’ first two games, they allowed 61 points, but when Fitzpatrick joined the team, they only allowed 24 points and produced five turnovers.

The question remains: Was he worth giving up a first round draft pick? So far, I feel he is proving his worth.

I believe the Steelers can make a comeback despite a bad start, and I predict them to have around eight wins this season.

Greyson Miller

Altoona