MEADVILLE, Pa. — Residents and business owners had mixed reactions to plans for a proposed roundabout for a busy Crawford County intersection.
PennDOT held a public meeting at the Vernon Township Municipal Building on Thursday, where the audience learned about plans and addressed concerns about the proposed changes to the intersection of Routes 322/6, 19 and 98 in the township.
Dave Fairfield, of Cochranton, said, “Roundabouts, 50 years ago, might’ve been a good idea. Nowadays, you have to have people stop. Otherwise, they’re going to keep on going.”
Barbara Minik, a resident of Vernon Township and the owner of a business near the intersection, said she was convinced that the plan was already “a done deal,” in spite of requests for public input.
“This is being thrown down our throats for something the majority does not want,” she said.
The preliminary design calls for a two-lane roundabout with an estimated cost of about $3 million, which would be paid for by federal funds.
Bill Petit, District 1 executive of PennDOT, said a 2015 study revealed that the project would improve safety and efficiency at the intersection.
“We’ll reduce fatalities by 90 percent. We can reduce severe accidents by 75 percent, pedestrian accidents by 30-40 percent,” he said. “There is a lot of good we can create by building a roundabout at this location.”
The intersection, referred to as the “Big I” by locals, sees an average of more than 20,000 vehicles a day.
One of those drivers is Vernon Township resident Robert Washburn.
“I’ve seen the one in Saegertown,” he said. “I think that people that are against it are really thinking about their bottom line. They’re thinking about economics. They aren’t thinking about safety.”
There are mixed reactions to the preliminary plans, but PennDOT officials said they are accepting feedback.
Petit said, “It’s going to create so inconveniences. There’s no doubt when you have a project of this magnitude, but we’re looking forward to it. We think it’s going to be a significant investment for Vernon Township’s future.”
Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2019. It will remain open to traffic through its completion in Fall 2019.
For a video simulation of traffic at the proposed roundabout, click here.
To submit feedback online to PennDOT, complete the online survey here.