• October 3, 2023

Traffic light in limbo for dangerous Bellefonte intersection

BELLEFONTE — A dangerous Bellefonte intersection got a traffic study in 2022. So what’s next? A traffic light, possibly.

Last summer, Bellefonte Borough Council approved asking PennDOT to conduct a traffic study to see if a traffic light was warranted for the busy intersection at Parkview Boulevard and Zion Road (state Route 550).

That study did, in fact, take place, Bellefonte borough manager Ralph Stewart said.

“In the fall of last year, we received word from PennDOT that the study they did revealed that a traffic light was warranted,” Stewart said. “Basically, they checked the amount of cars going through those intersections. They sent the borough a letter asking that we do our own design study.”

There have been several injury-causing motor-vehicle crashes and accidents at the intersection over the past several years.

It’s now on the borough, Stewart said, to come up with a design that PennDOT deems acceptable.

“Once the design is accepted, we have a two-year window to install a traffic light,” Steward said.

Last year, more than 200 Bellefonte residents requested that a study be done.

Heavy traffic flow has intensified as there are several businesses near the intersection. The largest business is the Mount Nittany Medical Center, which has offices in the former Weis Markets plaza. Northwest Savings Bank and JRS Landscaping are also located near the intersection. Confer’s Jewelers and Co2 Boutique will be moving into the former Pizza Hut location, which is also not far from the intersection.

Bellefonte Borough sold the Armory, which is also near the intersection. The new owner plans to develop the Armory into a brewery, tasting room and restaurant.

“They’re doing a land development plan for the brewery, which will eventually have a traffic impact. In their process, they went to PennDOT and started to talk about their plans,” Stewart said.

To complicate matters, The Bellefonte Area School District may build its new elementary school behind the high school.

“The Bellefonte School District — on Airport Road — is moving ahead with their plans to construct an elementary school. They did the exact same thing. Their engineers went to PennDOT and said, ‘this is in the works,’” Stewart said.

All those things complicate the process, Stewart said.

“There are three projects — our traffic light, the Armory property development and the elementary school development — in the works. We’ve had a couple of meetings with all of these parties and with PennDOT,” Stewart said.

The borough would prefer that it not have multiple traffic light projects taking place at the same time.

According to Stewart, there is a way to streamline everything.

“Basically, what we’re trying to do is do one plan for Airport Road and Parkview Boulevard on Zion Road so we all are on the same page and don’t have to do anything twice … nobody has to re-do a design to accommodate the other folks,” Stewart said.

A likely solution to the traffic flow, Stewart said, will be a traffic light at Parkview Boulevard as well as one at Airport Road.

“Yes, it’s two lights, but it will be the least amount of loss of property,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to avoid a loss of property due to re-aligning either Parkview or Airport or both to make a four-way intersection,” Steward said.

Would the two traffic lights be awfully close together? Yes. However, as Stewart pointed out, there are a pair of traffic lights just down the road near the Weis Markets entrance at Zion Road and Buckaroo Lane.

“They prefer not to do that (two lights), but they have done it. Even down by Weis in Spring Township, they have something similar. It’s not their preferred method,” Stewart said.

Basically, the light is in a “holding pattern” of sorts.

“We’re holding for the bigger decisions,” Stewart said. “So we don’t have to design anything twice.”

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