The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

April 30, 2014

Route 642 intersection near Danville may get traffic signal

VALLEY TWP. — A new traffic signal is planned for an intersection with a high accident rate.

The signal, at Routes 642 and 54 in Valley Township, would be funded mostly by the federal government with either the township or Montour County being responsible for maintenance and electric costs after construction, according to PennDOT.

The county already pays for electricity for the signal at Old Valley School Road and Route 54 at McDonald’s Restaruant, County Commissioner Jerry Ward said. There is a proposal to upgrade the signal at McDonalds.

Ward said the county receives financial assistance for the electric costs at that intersection from hotels and motels at the Danville exit of I-80. He said the county also pays for the electricity for the blinking light at Routes 642 and 54, also in Valley Township.

The cost of the signal project is estimated at more than $1 million, said Mike Bender, plans engineer in PennDOT’s Montoursville district office.

He said the new signal would be installed because of a high rate of accidents there.

According to PennDOT, 24 accidents have occurred since 2009 in the area of the Route 54 corridor which runs from the I-80 off ramp to just south of the first Route 642 intersection where the signal is proposed.

Injuries during those years included eight moderate injuries and 15 minor injuries. Crashes in 2009 totaled 4. There were five accidents 2010, eight in 2011, five in 2012 and two in 2013, according to PennDOT safety press officer Dave Thompson.

The project is included in a corridor where funds are available for the signals, Bender said.

The cost of the signals and construction are included in the federal funding with construction expected to begin the spring of 2015, he said.

A public meeting on the plan is expected to be scheduled.

PennDOT officials met the end of March with Valley Township officials and the commissioners.

Bender said the township deferred to the county for costs to be incurred.

Township Supervisors’ Vice Chairman Walt Rupert said the township isn’t interested in taking on what amounts to be an unfunded mandate.

With the new signal, traffic coming from the Lewisburg area, on Route 642 west, and wanting to head toward I-80 would be controlled by the signal. There still would be a lane for traffic merging onto Route 54.

Bender said PennDOT is still in the process of designing the project.

He didn’t have an estimate of the maintenance or electric costs of the signals.

PennDOT spokesman Rick Mason said the federal funds for the signals would come from safety improvement project money.

Ward believes, with new LED lights in the signals, the electric cost would be minimal compared with the price and construction of the signals.

He said the commissioners have asked that a sign be placed along Route 54 heading toward Danville to direct traffic to stay in the right lane at the blinking light so traffic coming from Route 642 east can pull into the left lane.

“I feel this is a good thing — if we can help coordinate traffic merging from the blinking light with less congestion,” he said.

Plans showing the signal project are on display in the commissioners’ conference room in the county courthouse on Mill Street.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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