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Left turn from Main to Union will be studied; new signal possible at intersection

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 5/16/18

Middletown borough will have a traffic study completed — at a cost not to exceed $5,000 — to see if a left-turn signal would make it easier for eastbound traffic on Main Street to turn …

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Left turn from Main to Union will be studied; new signal possible at intersection

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Middletown borough will have a traffic study completed — at a cost not to exceed $5,000 — to see if a left-turn signal would make it easier for eastbound traffic on Main Street to turn left onto North Union Street.

The intersection at the square has a turning lane for eastbound motorists to turn left onto North Union. However, with no dedicated left-turn signal, motorists who want to turn left must wait to get through westbound traffic on Main Street, which is Route 230.

Council Vice President Dawn Knull proposed the study, saying the left-turn signal was needed before she got elected to council in November 2015, but that the situation is worse now because more motorists are using Route 230 to avoid the Route 283 construction project.

“I’ve had several people contact me” about the need for a signal, and Knull added she also has plenty of first-hand experience trying to get through the intersection to turn left onto North Union on weekday mornings.

“When I take my son to school, it takes me four lights to make the left-hand turn,” she told council on April 17. “Somebody’s going to get hurt up there.”

Councilor Robert Reid agreed, saying he drives through the intersection every weekday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. to see what it’s like.

“It’s really really bad and it’s going to get worse with the college (Penn State Harrisburg) getting bigger,” Reid said.

Council on May 1 voted 5-0 to approve hiring consulting engineers HRG do the study at a cost not to exceed $5,000.

The study will also include looking at pedestrian safety at the intersection, an issue brought up to council by Robert Hauser of Brown Street.

He noted that even when a pedestrian trying to cross the street at the intersection pushes the button and gets the white light to cross, there is no time when traffic is halted in all directions.

“You have cars traveling through the pedestrian walkway while the pedestrian signs says to walk. That’s an issue. An adult might be paying attention. Children don’t,” Hauser said.

The solution is for traffic in all directions at the intersection to be halted by a red light for some period of time, so a pedestrian can cross safely, Hauser said.

Main Street is state-owned. An engineering traffic study and a letter of request from the borough is required for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to consider making any changes, borough Manager Ken Klinepeter told council.

If PennDOT determines the signal is warranted, the borough must pay for it, Klinepeter noted.

In addition, more may be needed besides just putting in the traffic signal. Klinepeter observed that the left-turn lane for eastbound motorists turning north onto Union is “very limited” in size.

“I’ve been behind such a long line of cars waiting to go straight” eastbound on Main “that I can’t get to” the left-hand turning lane. I can see that thing changing (the green light at the intersection) and I can’t even get there,” Klinepeter said.

On an average day, 8,213 vehicles are using 230 west of Vine Street in both directions, with 3 percent of those being trucks, PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny told the Press & Journal. East of Vine Street the number is 5,446 vehicles a day, with 4 percent being trucks.

These traffic counts are probably at least a year old, Penny said, so they do not factor in increased traffic on 230 resulting from motorists seeking to avoid the construction on 283.