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Road Construction, Congestion Temporary, Officials Say

Anthony Vega, Reporter

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Many commuters say the five-way intersection in the center of Dallas is nightmare because catching that light means you’ll arrive at your destination late once you wait for the light to come back around.

Junior occupational therapy major Jessica Pluta said the long wait time is frustrating.

“It always takes forever, and it makes a trip to the grocery store or to Wilkes-Barre take a lot longer than it needs to. Sometimes it even makes me late to softball,” Pluta said.

A project 10 years in the making is intended to solve the frustrating delays. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will replace the intersection with  a roundabout.

“The purpose of the project is to improve the quality of life for the community and the traveling public,”said PennDOT spokesperson Mike Taluto.

It will take crews  two or three years to complete the work in phases, during which detours will allow normal traffic flow without having to shut down the intersection. The first step of the project, which was to remove an abandoned building in the Pizza Bella parking lot, is complete. 

Concern about construction delays have already crossed the mind of some commuters.

Senior nursing major Dani Howey said travel may be even more frustrating for a time.  “It would be smartest if there were detours so the whole area can be shut down during construction and people will just have to plan accordingly. Detours will also allow the job to get done faster compared to if they allowed drivers to use the intersection.”

Officials say the intersection cannot be entirely closed off because of the lack of alternate routes.

Mark Van Etten, Director of Facilities and Auxiliary Services, said the main concern about the roundabout is with the construction period, and how it may cause traffic congestion.

There will be times when Lake Street will be closed at the intersection, and traffic will have to be rerouted,VanEtten said.

Roundabouts reduce lethal car accidents by 78 to 82% compared to conventional stop-controlled and signalized intersections, according to a 2016 report by the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.  Reducing the number and severity of conflict points, as well as a reduction of speed makes roundabouts  significantly safer, the report states.

Howey believes people simply need to get used to driving through roundabouts. She said she lives in an area where they are common.

“Roundabouts can be very confusing for people who don’t use them a lot. I think something that could help that is if there were signs letting drivers know who has to yield and who has the right of way. It shouldn’t take too long for people who are unfamiliar with roundabouts to get used to it.”

The roundabout was selected as the best solution to the increased traffic resulting from growth of the University, Van Etten said.

“The five-way intersection is just a congested area and the traffic backs up at different times of the day,” said Van Etten, “so something needed to be done to increase the traffic flow and reduce the congestion, and out of the possible solutions that were offered by PennDot for the intersection, the roundabout is the best solution for Misericordia.”

Van Etten also discussed the other option PennDot proposed which would have made the five-way intersection into a four-way intersection that would have included making Lake Street a one-way street going towards campus. Which with all the buildings the University owns on Lake Street, would have been a nightmare for students.

Senior business administration major, Rachael Taylor talked about her difficulties with getting to a Lake Street building on time for class.

“I have been late several times to class at Passan Hall because I have gotten stuck at the light. I only live less than one mile away from the building but if I hit the light, it could take me double the time it would take me to walk to Passan. It is so frustrating waiting at the light because I could literally walk to class but instead I drive and have to wait at the light.”

The roundabout will at first be a small inconvenience for commuters but once the project is complete it’ll make the drive through town a lot easier for everyone.

“I think it will really help the traffic overall since it will keep everything moving. No need anymore for people to stop for long periods of time and (People) can go when they want. The traffic is always flowing and I think it will be very beneficial in that area since traffic isn’t too heavy there so there should be little issues regarding the roundabout,” said Howey.  “I do think the change will be worth it because roundabouts won’t have anyone stopped for too long compared to a light. Especially since this area is a five-way intersection currently, it will be of use for a lot of people.”

The roundabout should be completed by the spring of 2019.

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Road Construction, Congestion Temporary, Officials Say