220 Dilemma

LINDEN – At the end of the third public meeting on proposals to improve safety on Route 220 in Woodward and Piatt townships, no consensus was in sight, despite updates from the state Department of Transportation.

“We went back to the drawing board, following feedback from the last meeting,” Chris Neidig, a department project manager, told concerned residents and business owners at the Woodward Township Volunteer Fire Co. building Wednesday night.

Yet many still were not satisfied. One woman, Dot Fuller, a business owner in the township, thought the proposed changes prioritized travelers and not residents.

She advocated introducing traffic signals to improve safety, but Dave Hamlet, a study manager with Gannett Fleming, disagreed.

“It seems like a common sense approach,” he said, before explaining that traffic lights may reduce angle crashes – which have caused fatalities on the state road – while increasing rear-end collisions.

Instead, the design team behind the study is proposing several access points to save lives.

As a way to reduce traffic conflicts at intersections, an acceleration lane was proposed that would extend from Queneshaque Road to enter the southbound lanes of Route 220. A similar lane was proposed to enter the northbound lanes from Sawmill Road.

Other proposed changes featured U-turns and jug handles to accommodate larger vehicles and eliminate left turns from side streets onto Route 220.

Hamlet said that each proposal – all still in conceptual phases – come with trade-offs.

For example, he provided three distinct options for restructuring roads to safely exit and enter east Linden, but each either would change the landscape of the area in some way or increase the length of daily travels.

“You might have to drive longer in some cases,” he said, adding that safety is the study’s priority.

Alan Worth, a Woodward Township supervisor, defended the study.

“Is not having to drive an extra mile worth someone’s life?” he openly asked.

One Woodward Township resident, Scott Younkin, asked why Route 220 couldn’t have an increased police presence.

Alan Keller, a district traffic engineer, said police resources significantly have decreased in recent years and wished that were an option.

Other concerns were financial.

Hamlet said the cost of the construction alone would be about $16 million.

That would not include design costs and costs related to obtaining environmental clearances, added Neidig.

Hamlet said that the project, if approved and funded, would not roll out at once but would be finished in phases, as he emphasized again that the proposals still are conceptual designs only.

State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, urged the community to come together, lest the funding for the project be used up elsewhere.

In November, another public meeting will be held before a final report is published toward the end of the year, according to Neidig.