PennDot Project Remains on Track; Brookville Homeowners, Business to be Displaced

6:6:16 smith residence Rt 322:28BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) — A planned road project in Jefferson County that will displace eight homeowners and one business remains on track.

(Photo: Mr. & Mrs. George Smith’s house)

The Route 28/322 Intersection Safety Improvement Project is still in its preliminary stages, but state Department of Transportation officials don’t anticipate anything stopping it from eventually happening.

“We don’t see anything stopping it,” said Mark Rozich, PennDot District 10 Senior Project Manager.

Rozich said there are archeological investigations in the process and an investigation of a hazardous waste monitoring well in the area.

“We just want to understand what is going on there,” Rozich said.

The plan is to add turning lanes, widen the road, cut out the hillside, and add a traffic light.

“It would create a more conventional, left-hand turning lane for drivers coming from Interstate 80 towards Brookville,” Rozich said. “Thank goodness, there haven’t been any fatalities there, but there have been a lot of smaller accidents there.”

However, PennDot’s accident statistics for the intersection don’t seem to support this assertion, with just five reportable accidents in the most recent five-year span.

The agency provided statistics for reportable accidents, defined as those in which a injury or fatality occurred, or a vehicle needed towing from the scene, for a five-year period from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2015.

In three years – 2011, 2013, and 2015 – there were no reportable accidents. In 2012, there were two reportable accidents – one involving moderate injuries and one with minor injuries. In 2014, there three reportable accidents – one with moderate injuries, one with unknown injuries, and one with property damage.

Pa. State Police Sgt. Jamie LeVier said the intersection doesn’t stand out in his mind as being a dangerous intersection.

“Nothing jumps out at me,” LeVier said.

George Smith, one of the people who could lose his home, isn’t happy about the prospect of having to move and disputes the idea that the intersection is not safe.

“My wife and I have lived here 42 years, and we’ve put a lot of work into the home and the property,” Smith said. “We’re in our 70s, and we have no interest in moving. They say it’s about accidents, but there haven’t been that many. And, I don’t understand why some of our homes and the Hilltop One Stop have to be removed, but the car wash can stay.”

The Smiths are playing a waiting game, as are other landowners until the environmental and archeological investigations are complete.

“It’s hard to be in limbo and not being able to start looking for another house, if that’s we have to do,” Pauline Smith said.

“I don’t like it, but usually when the state or government wants something, they don’t care if you like it or not,” Smith said.

Rozich said it will be probably be two years (2018) until the state can begin buying houses and three years from construction beginning.

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