Reader likes Southpointe traffic changes; suggests more
A new Walmart is getting ready to open the first week of February along Route 40 just outside West Brownsville .
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Changes have indeed alleviated congestion and improved traffic flow in Southpointe.
A story that I wrote for this newspaper last Monday detailed how the addition of traffic lights and turning lanes and the widening of Southpointe Boulevard have reduced contentious commuter issues that likely would have worsened over time. Southpointe’s current workforce of about 8,000 is projected to grow by as much as 50 percent in five years in a relatively concentrated section of Cecil Township.
In some ways, Southpointe has become the Manhattan of Washington County, so measures had to be implemented.
They work — mostly. Yet there are still issues at certain times, writes Marcy Robertson, one of those 8,000 employed there.
Robertson is the employee development services leader at Champion International Moving, and has been working in the mixed-use business and residential park since 1997. She lives in North Strabane Township, once a 10-minute commute to or from work that, she says, is now 30 minutes.
In an e-mail, she acknowledged the “improvements,” including the installation of a light at the end of the southbound ramp from Interstate 79 onto the boulevard. She also understands that the increased volume of traffic has extended her drive time.
But she does have laments, especially the lack of a traffic light at the end of the northbound ramp from I-79.
She said it is difficult to make a left turn off that ramp onto the boulevard at peak times in the morning. Traffic from the left heading toward Morganza Road does not have to stop, and while commuters from the right have a stop sign across from the northbound ramp, she said they slow when approaching the light, causing backups that make it “nearly impossible” for her to turn left.
There is a lot of necessary rubber-necking for her and others leaving that ramp. “It’s now a dangerous intersection.”
She also said that evening backups at the north end of the park can be bad because all commuters heading for I-79 – North and South – have to be in the right lane to get onto their respective ramps. Robertson also suggested extending the I-79 South entrance ramp farther onto Southpointe Boulevard.
Robertson wishes that a true cloverleaf had been erected at that intersection. That may have helped, but in an area that has been more wildly popular than anyone anticipated 20 years ago, there may be no perfect solution.
Consumers realize that where there’s a Goodwill, there’s a way to shop inexpensively. Starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, they will get an opportunity to do that again at 89 Jefferson Ave., Washington.
The nonprofit retail thrift store will have a ribbon-cutting and grand opening at that time. The first 200 customers will get a reusable Goodwill shopping bag, and Goodwill gift cards and Wild Things tickets will be given away.
This store is on the site of an outdated Goodwill that was razed in June. It is more spacious than its predecessor, with 15,000 square feet, including 9,000 in sales floor space.
David Tobiczyk, vice president of marketing and development for Goodwill of Southwestern Prennsylvania, said the Washington outlet will be one of the company’s “new prototype stores,” with more windows, different lighting and environmental upgrades.
“It will be easier to shop,” he added.
There also will be a drive-through donation area, where an employee will come out and accept items.
Sales at the stores fund Goodwill Industries International Inc., also a nonprofit.
After closing at 89 Jefferson Ave. late last spring, the local Goodwill store relocated to 853 Jefferson, where it will be open until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Feb. 1 will be a Fabulous Friday for a region that needs a boost. The West Brownsville Walmart will open at 7 a.m. that day.
West Brownsville and Brownsville, its Fayette County neighbor across the Mon, have been plagued by high unemployment and few opportunities for too long. This Walmart not only is providing about 220 jobs, but a cost-effective, big-box retail experience that is closer to home than now exists for nearby residents. And its mere existence may draw other retailers and restaurants to the area, resulting in more jobs and, perhaps, an increase in home sales.
“The local communities and area dignitaries have made us feel very welcome,” said Marcy Park, district manager for Walmart. “They’re hoping that we might bring more business to the area.”
This Walmart, managed by Chad Mathers, is in the final stages of construction, with landscaping and some interior work to be completed. It will sell groceries and a large assortment of other merchandise, and promises to be energy-efficient with the use of LED lighting in signage. freezer cases and the parking lot.
Park said the company will have a by-invitation-only event the evening before the opening for dignitaries and store associates and their families. Walmart, she said, will make $8,000 in donations that night to a number of local entities including the West Brownsville fire and police departments, California Area School District and Center in the Woods, a multi-purpose community center for older adults near Cal U.
Rick Shrum can be reached at email@example.com.