It won't be too long before Lowe's Home Improvement Center opens along Route 443 in Lehighton. The store obviously will increase traffic flow on the two-lane highway.
Between Lowe's and Wal-mart, the two largest businesses along the highway, located about a half-mile from each other, there is a small section of Route 443 which has a slight variation of traffic pattern.
A concrete barrier was placed along side the road when it was determined the shoulder of the street was possibly in danger of collapsing. That barrier was put there more than a year ago. How much longer will it stay?
Will it take a serious accident for PennDOT to make the necessary improvements to remove that barrier?
Route 443 has become a popular route for over-size loads. While the eastbound side of the highway has an ample shoulder to accommodate these loads, the westbound lane is more narrow because of the barrier.
At night, the barrier creates a hazard for motorists. Just because no serious accidents have happened at the site doesn't mean it is safe. Waiting for a fatality or multiple vehicle crash should not be the criteria needed for action.
There's been talk of widening Route 443 because of the commercial growth along it. The process for that kind of project, however, is long and involved, even before construction work could begin.
Judging from the kind of time it's taking to restore the section of Route 443 in the area of the concrete barrier, we can't imagine the timeframe for something as involved as widening the highway.
While planning is important to do a job properly, sometimes it seems this step of the process takes too long. This is happening on Route 443 in what would appear to be a relatively simple task of restoring a road shoulder.
Hopefully the remedy comes before the onslaught of winter, when travel can become much more difficult for motorists.
By Ron Gower