Route 88 traffic improvement plan opposed in Carroll

July 15, 2013
Proposed roundabout to improve the intersection of Routes 88 and 837 in Carroll Township

The state Department of Transportation’s preferred option to improve a Route 88 intersection in the Mon Valley by moving traffic around a circle isn’t viewed as desirable among local officials, residents and at least one businessman.

Archie Allridge, an owner of Fisher Heights Giant Eagle at Routes 88 and 837 in Carroll Township, said the proposed roundabout at the site would gobble up his store’s parking lot.

“It takes the prime spots. It puts me out of business,” Allridge said Monday.

PennDOT two weeks ago made public the plan along with another that would keep the T-shaped intersection with traffic signals and add turning lanes to create better traffic flows.

The roundabout almost immediately drew criticism from Carroll supervisors, said Jim Harrison, vice chairman of the board.

“We are 100 percent opposed to it,” Harrison said.

“I have fielded dozens of calls, and no one is in favor of it.”

Roundabouts have become the “wave of the future” because they are more efficient and safer than many traditional intersections, said Rachel Duda, an assistant PennDOT district executive for design.

Cars are forced to slow and yield into a two-lane circle and exit from various turning lanes.

Roundabouts nearly eliminate rear-end crashes because they do not force traffic to stop.

Duda said this intersection has proven itself to experience more vehicle accidents than the “standard average” in Pennsylvania, and the traffic there exceeds capacity.

“It has a poor level of service,” she said.

PennDOT executives are now told to start with roundabouts as a preferred alternative when making intersection improvements, Duda said.

While the department has yet to make a decision on the one in Carroll, the roundabout remains PennDOT’s preferred design, she said.

She said the roundabout would affect fewer properties than adding turning lanes, and that it involves taking one house.

If the state takes parking spaces from the Giant Eagle, the business will be compensated for them.

“We will create new ones for them,” Duda said.

Allridge said PennDOT is expected to make a decision on the plan within six months.

Meanwhile, Harrison said, township police and fire officials also opposed the roundabout.

“It is a sore spot,” he said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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