LINDEN - "We've got to stop the accident hemorrhaging now."
Those were words shared by Lycoming County Transportation Planner Mark Murawski Wednesday night at the Woodward Township supervisors' meeting, where the results of a year-long study were presented and proposed changes suggested to limit violent crashes and prevent collisions from occurring at the Route 220 intersection with Pine Run Road.
"We need to restrict left turns and crossing over in the lanes of traffic on Pine Run Road," said Alan Keller, state Department of Transportation District 3-0 traffic engineer. A traffic light at the site was not considered to be the solution and may lead to additional crashes.
Instead, the state agency, with support from the county, proposed a quicker solution to reduce potential points of impact that have caused severe and deadly crashes over the years. Officials would like to consider the addition of J-turns and median U-turns along with deceleration lanes. This fall, the state also plans to initiate an access management study to further minimize problematic areas, Murawski said.
While improving the safety of motorists and pedestrians at the intersection was the subject of discussion, the transportation officials said they want to reduce multiple points where collisions occur along the six-mile corridor between Williamsport and Jersey Shore.
Surprisingly, studies show the crash rate in the corridor to be fairly low, but the angle at which the crashes occur, often at 90-degrees at intersections, very often results in severe and deadly consequences.
Traffic flow, too, has dramatically increased due to the Marcellus Shale activities, according to PennDOT. Truck traffic has tripled while many large trucks that appear to be speeding are not exceeding the posted speed limit by as much as some motorists may believe, according to Keller.
State police and transportation officials worry about the "gap" time or time it takes for drivers to enter the lanes of traffic and get into the median. It was noted most accidents are occurring toward the end of the driver's cross-over - in both north and south-bound lanes of Route 220.
"Right angle far side collisions seem to be the worst," Keller said. Many drivers in these crashes, some 62 percent, were not using seat belts. Between 2000 and last year the Route 220 corridor west of the city experienced 17 fatal crashes.
The safety concept at the Pine Run Road intersection literally would force drivers who otherwise want to cross the lanes and go west to Jersey Shore to stay to the right until they could merge left down the road at the safer point. That is the way it's done on U.S. Route 15 south of Harrisburg, Keller said.
"We would like to channel(ize) the traffic to the right on Pine Run Road, where the Sheetz store is at," he said.
With the amount of money available to make safety improvements, the state and county encourage interim steps, Murawski said.
He looked forward to construction starting on the J-turn close to the West Fourth Street interchange and future intersections. He also said another long-term study is in the works and begins this fall.
"We need an access management plan for this corridor to minimize conflicts across the six miles. "The hemorrhaging from the crashes has got to stop."