Future of intersection discussed

Public, officials weigh in on Mill Road-Electric Ave. interchange

YEAGERTOWN — It was a productive evening, Wednesday, for those discussing the intersection of Electric Avenue and Mill Road.

The meeting was hosted by Derry Township and the Mifflin County Office of Planning and Development to hear ideas from the public about what to do with the intersection.

Michelle A. Brummer, of Gannett Fleming, led the meeting and said that the intersection has been of concern for some time.

“It has not been a high concern as far as safety,” she said. “However it has been a steady safety concern for a while.”

There were only about 20 people at the meeting, but the crowd included not only several members of the public, but also emergency, county and township officials.

Brummer said the purpose of the study, which was approved by the township and county, was to evaluate traffic and design alternatives.

She said that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation gave a report that overall there have been several reportable accidents in the area surrounding the intersection, including two in 2017.

“These are just reportable accidents,” she explained. “However, there are others that happen that are not reported.”

Brummer also said that regardless if the accident was reported or not, there is a ripple effect in the traffic that uses both Mill Road and Electric Avenue.

Mifflin County Regional Police Chief, Scott Mauery, was at the meeting and said that PennDOT’s number of accidents for that area are based on a broader scope.

“I looked at that intersection since 1997 and we have only responded to eight crashes total,” Mauery said.

He said it was staggering to see the difference because there are not that many there.

“There should be more there,” Mauery said.

Brummer said their partner in this study, the EADS Group, recently did a traffic study where they monitored all vehicle traffic in the intersection. They also looked at the surrounding intersections.

“They focused not only the number of vehicles on Electric Avenue, but also the amount of vehicles turning onto the road during peak hours,” Brummer explained.

She said that roughly1,800 vehicles per day travel on Electric Avenue.

Brummer added that they have started to think about options to make changes to the intersection.

Some solutions were easy, such as adding more and better signage. Another, more complex, solution could be adding concrete barriers to prevent people from turning.

“There are just ideas and we welcome your inputs and suggestions for this area,” she said.

The members of the public were then invited to give their inputs on the boards Brummer brought with her. The one board gauged how many times a day, week or month people travel through the intersection. Many put a green dot sticker on the daily, and multiple times per day portion of the board.

Also at this time emergency officials from Highland Park and East Derry fire companies and Fame EMS spoke to Brummer about what they feel is the larger problem at the intersection. They all agreed that closing Mill Road is not a viable solution, because they all use it to some capacity to respond to emergencies. They also said that it seems to not just be a problem with Mill Road, but also the off-ramp from 322.

This was shared by many others at the meeting who said that people consistently run the stop sign at the end of the off-ramp or simply become impatient while sitting there.

“I bet if you look at those crashes, the chief will show you that the person coming off 322 will be the cause most of the time,” Chief Bill Fike, of Highland Park, told Brummer.

Those listening to the conversation with the emergency officials and Brummer agreed with Fike.

Many at the meeting said additional signs would be a good solution, others also said that making Mill Road a left-turn-only road would eliminate one of the more dangerous traffic patterns that effects the roadway. Brummer said any possible solution will be looked at during these stages of the study, which is currently on a tight time-frame.

“We want to have three possible solutions by November to present to the public,” she said.

At that point, Brummer said the plan would be present the county and township with the possible solutions, and after that see if the groups would want to move into the design phase. She also said that by December there should be PennDOT grant money available to move forward with the design phase.

John McCullough, chairman of the Derry Township Supervisors, said that he felt the meeting was very productive.

The next public meeting will be held in November.