Unity seeks funding for upgrade of Route 30 intersection, replacement of 4 bridges

·4 min read

Jun. 11—Unity officials hope to leverage state and federal funding to help improve a hazardous intersection on Route 30 and to replace four deficient bridges.

Township supervisors on Thursday authorized Dan Schmitt of engineering consultant Gibson-Thomas Engineering to apply for a grant from PennDOT's Automated Red Light Enforcement funding program.

They want the money to cover a proposed safety improvement at Route 30 and Wimmerton Boulevard.

"It seems we have an accident every month there," Schmitt said.

He said the township would like to modify the intersection to eliminate left turns from Wimmerton onto eastbound Route 30, since motorists making that turn often have to pause in a median amid heavy traffic at the crest of a hill.

Instead, he said, motorists could use a back road, Brouwers Road, to drive from the Wimmerton housing development to Saint Vincent Drive, where they could enter Route 30 at a traffic signal.

Schmitt said planners have yet to calculate the improvement's expected cost. But he noted, if a grant is approved, it would cover 100% of project expenses.

According to Schmitt, township officials, after speaking with representatives of Wimmerton's homeowners association, ruled out pursuing a traffic signal at Wimmerton Boulevard because of the higher cost and ongoing maintenance.

He said drivers heading east on Route 30 could continue to turn left onto Wimmerton Boulevard.

Applications are due July 1 for the current round of ARLE grants. The grants are funded with fines collected at select intersections that are equipped with cameras to catch motorists who run red lights.

Bridge replacements planned

Supervisors also authorized Gibson-Thomas to complete design work for proposed replacement of four bridges that are in need of attention. That's according to a federally mandated, biennial inspection and rating system for spans more than 20 feet long.

Four such township bridges have fallen below a 50-point sufficiency rating.

In order of priority, they are: a bridge on Lloyd Avenue extension, near the Adelphoi campus at the border with Latrobe; Monastery Run Bridge, near Saint Vincent Lake; Baggaley Bridge, at the entrance to the village of Baggaley; and Shinsky Bridge, on Shinsky Road outside of Pleasant Unity.

Being on the list "doesn't mean the bridge is going to fall down," Schmitt said. He noted the rating system evaluates factors such as the guiderails on a bridge and roadway approaches, as well as the actual substructure and superstructure.

On Lloyd Avenue extension, he said the tributary to Loyalhanna Creek that the bridge crosses is undercutting the abutments.

Schmitt estimated it would cost $5.4 million to replace all four bridges. He said the relatively low traffic volumes across the township bridges have kept them from being considered for federal and state funding, which is channeled through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

He said having design work completed could make the bridges better candidates for funding, which then would cover at least 80% of project costs.

"We hope we can get the design and permits ready so that they are actually shovel-ready," he said, "and it may actually increase our chances of being selected."

A fallback position may be to tap some of the $8 million raised through a recent township bond issue.

Developments eyed on Frye Farm Road

The supervisors approved a site plan submitted by BMV Real Estate for converting a barn along Frye Farm Road into office space. They also agreed to remove a 34-acre section of a nearby 71-acre farm from an Agricultural Security Area.

Solicitor Gary Falatovich said the supervisors were required to approve the change because it has been requested by the property owner and the land, which is proposed for residential development as Frye Farm Road Estates, no longer would have an agricultural use.

The proposed high-density senior housing development would include about 120 units and would be located near SonRise Church. According to Falatovich, the township planning commission has tabled action on the development, citing concerns about multiple issues, including water supplies and the entrance to the church, off private Lois Lane.

Plans call for conversion of the lane to Lois Road, which would be the main access for the housing development.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@triblive.com or via Twitter .