On November 28th, The Morning Call published an article on our stretch of highway from Lenhartsville to New Smithville.
PennDOT is getting ready to launch a $175 million reconstruction project along a dangerous 8-mile stretch of Interstate 78 known for its heavy truck traffic and unusually high rate of traffic fatalities. In a 2014 study, the state estimated about 45,000 vehicles traveled that portion of the highway daily — with tractor-trailers making up about 35 percent of that figure. The study found the 8-mile section had 71 percent more crashes than other Pennsylvania expressways. Its fatality rate was 40 percent higher than elsewhere in the state, according to studies cited by PennDOT.
At our November 3rd meeting with PennDOT, this fact about the dangerous ten mile stretch of the I-78 corridor was brought up over and over and we listed out all the highway closures in the past year, the fatalities, the complete closing of both sides of the highway which puts traffic detoured onto Old 22 …
AND YET THEY STILL BELIEVE THAT THERE IS NOT A SAFETY CONCERN IN ISSUING AN HOP (Highway Occupancy Permit) FOR A WAREHOUSE?
Let’s talk about that for a moment. In 2014 there were 45,000 vehicles through this stretch of highway, approximately 16,000 of those being tractor trailers. Well, that is before the New Smithville Warehousing community was built. That was before they finished the six million square feet warehouses in Fogelsville. And where is a new study showing that those numbers are probably half again as many now, as we near to 2018, and the amount of tractor trailer traffic is probably closer to 50 percent.
We have repeatedly asked for a PennDOT traffic study on our intersection. I believe they need to do a traffic study on the highway, especially now that it will be under construction for four years, causing clogging and backups and more accidents as people impatiently try to get through the construction.
But adding another 2,000 vehicles, right in the middle of all this, for warehouse traffic, will not be a problem.