A photograph of an old service station at the corner of Locust and Highland avenues in Washington accompanied a front-page article Tuesday about the progress of the Route 19 corridor project. The building and the dilapidated houses around it have been a familiar and depressing site to Washington residents for decades. That these structures will soon be bulldozed flat is welcome news.
The photo accompanying this editorial shows the same service station in better days – the 1930s. At that time, before the interstate highways were constructed, Washington still was an important crossroads: U.S. 40 running east-west and U.S. 19 going north-south. As it is today, Route 19 coming from Pittsburgh was a major entrance to the city, and property owners treated it that way.
While so much has progressed in three-quarters of a century, so much has also declined. The corridor project, in the planning stages for years, is finally under way, and it’s about time. No one has seen fit to maintain, let alone restore, these old buildings in this part of the city, so it is best that they disappear and make way for new development.
The initial part of the corridor project – the reconstruction of Lincoln Street – is all but complete. Starting in as early as March, College Street will be ripped up and redone, followed by Highland and Ridge avenues. This will mean many more months of inconvenience to motorists, but we urge them to take the long view. This entrance to Washington will never look as quaint and tidy as it once did, but this major reconstruction project offers an opportunity to regain a little of that lost pride.