Gone are the days when Allison Hollow Road was just a way to get from Pike Street to other country roads in Chartiers Township.
New housing developments and traffic related to the Marcellus gas industry have seen the numbers of vehicles that use the road on a weekly basis go from the hundreds to the thousands.
“I remember when it was a tar and chip road,” said township police Chief James Horvath, said of the road that covers just under three miles. “Cars used to slide in the wet tar.”
“Now we have drivers who use it as a shortcut between Pike Street and Hickory Ridge Road,” he added.
During a recent traffic count by the police over a seven-day period, almost 7,500 vehicles used the road northbound from Pike to Hickory Ridge while almost 5,000 traveled it southbound.
“And that was during the summer,” Horvath said. “It is even busier when school is in session.”
“It was designed as a country road, never a major thoroughfare,” said Jodi Noble, township manager. “I think every resident of the township is on Allison Hollow at some point throughout the week.”
Residents who regularly drive Allison Hollow have been complaining to the board of supervisors about the condition of the road as well as speeding. In July, the board chose the Coraopolis-based firm of Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering Inc. as the consulting engineer to design specifications and serve as construction manager for the Allison Hollow Road project.
“The engineering firm is going to evaluate all the options,” Noble said. “We want to do more than just pave it. There are safety issues, sight distance, and drainage problems not to mention trees.”
“We want to solve as many issues as possible,” she added. “This is a major artery for the township so we want it to last.”
Richard Metzler, chairman of the township’s board of supervisors, said it is likely the width of the road will vary.
“But we’d like to widen it as much as possible,” Metzler said. “But there are some areas where we will be limited because some homes are close to the road.”
The supervisors will also enter into discussion with Range Resources about the road. The company has plans for some gas wells off Allison Hollow, the supervisor added.
“We will approach them about making an investment in the road so it can handle the weight of their trucks,” Metzler said.
Noble said the designer will even look at “traffic calming” features to prevent speeding.
The developers of Piatt Estates, a luxury housing plan with entrances off Allison Hollow and Arthurs Road, also will work with the township to widen Allison Hollow so a turning lane can be constructed, Metzler added.
Some improvements also will be made at several of the other roads that intersect with Allison Hollow, like Country Barn and McGovern roads.
While the cost of the work could force it to be done in phases, township officials hope that work can begin during next year’s construction season. Metzler said the work could cost about a million dollars. He said the money from Act 13 is going a long way toward the township being able to undertake a project like this one.
“The goal is the long term viability of the road. It is beyond just paving,” Noble said. “We are not just putting a band aid on the road.”