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A dangerous drive

  • RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Motorists find it difficult to see cars traveling west on Route 443 when they enter the highway from Ashtown Drive due to barriers that are almost as high as the vehicles.
    RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Motorists find it difficult to see cars traveling west on Route 443 when they enter the highway from Ashtown Drive due to barriers that are almost as high as the vehicles.
Published November 09. 2010 05:00PM

A bad intersection along Route 443 has been made dangerous according to Mahoning Township supervisors and they want to know when it is going to be corrected.

The intersection between Ashtown Road and Route 443 is at a dangerous angle to begin with according to supervisors but the addition of tall jersey barriers added to the east sight line makes it virtually impossible to see oncoming traffic. Supervisors want them changed or the situation that caused them to be placed there remedied. The problem is PennDOT directed Wal-Mart to place them there because of instability in the shoulder and there is no deadline as to when PennDOT will approve corrective action.

"I drove to that intersection in my truck and even with the additional height I could barely see roofs over the top of the barriers," said Chairperson John Wieczorek. "For someone driving in a car, it is impossible to see traffic traveling west on Route 443."

In addition to the basic problem, Wieczorek said a neighbor is complaining about motorists trespassing into his driveway to get a better sightline at the intersection. "They are driving on his property and he wants it stopped."

Wieczorek said he called Wal-Mart Project Engineer Skip Schneider who said the plan to remove them was submitted to PennDOT on Friday and they should be removed in a short time. "The problem I have is meeting-wise we have been waiting for them to remove them. The last time he was here which was a month ago, he told us they would be gone in two or three weeks. What is a short time? A few months?"

Wieczorek said he believed Schneider had submitted the plan weeks ago to PennDOT. "Now we have a situation where the intersection is dangerous and the owner is getting perturbed because people are using his driveway to get a sightline on the highway."

"Or, they are just laying on the gas and flying out onto the highway, " added Supervisor Travis Steigerwalt.

"Why don't we just close the road except to local traffic?" asked Supervisor George Stawnyczyj. "There are only two or three houses on that part of the road."

"How can you tell what local traffic is?" asked Wieczorek.

"By who drives into the driveways. If they go through they are not local," Stawnyczyj replied.

Supervisor Frank Ruch asked who installed the barriers and suggested they change more of them for lower ones. Wieczorek asked who would be the party to do the job, PennDOT or Walmart? Solicitor Tom Nanovic suggested they pose the question to the township engineer.

"I think we should ask Wal-Mart to fix this," said Linda Benner pointing out there is going to be an accident at the intersection sooner or later.

Wieczorek said he doesn't want the township to be liable in that case. He said the barriers were not the township's idea and he believes they are a safety issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. He added that the engineer is going to look into who needs to be contacted and what can be done to correct the issue.

Township resident and Planning Commission Chairperson Bruce Steigerwalt asked why PennDOT could not just replace the guiderail with one that had deeper pilings.

"That rail was there for 40 years and PennDOT did not care to do anything about it leaning. Why wasn't this problem identified and corrected in the months they were working there?" he asked.

Supervisors agreed to find out from Township Engineer Tim Edinger what course of action they could pursue before they made a decision, but they hoped to solve the problem as soon as possible to make the intersection safer.

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