What traffic planners now know about the gigantic growth that Altoona and its immediate surroundings have seen since the 1960s could have avoided the troublesome intersection that currently exists near the Target store in Sierra North Plaza – as well as some sources least travel frustration.
The problem is that there was no way to predict at the time how the region’s economic landscape would develop over the next 50 or 60 years.
Over the area from the start, there was uncertainty as to how downtown Altoona would survive the upheaval of redevelopment and the exodus of businesses to suburban sites and whether the move to the exterior would collapse after a while.
Even with the evolving expertise of the Altoona and Blair county planning commissions, the Southern Alleghenies Six Counties Planning and Development Commission and the Highway-
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation design bureaus, the region lacked the proverbial crystal ball that could have alerted those planners to potential hotspots that might eventually surface as growth exceeded anyone’s forecast or imagination.
So, with regard to the intersection near Target, all possible remedies seem to bring the prospect of a “replacement” problem or problems.
Meanwhile, PennDOT would be satisfied with the operation of existing traffic lights and traffic on Plank Road in this area.
With PennDOT not seeing much justification for getting involved in the issue, also based in part on the fact that private property is involved, and due to the existence of so many conflicting factors, motorists should not anticipate a quick resolution of current travel and access. problems.
However, there would be no harm in conducting a detailed study of this area to find out if there are any possible remedies not yet identified or suggested.
A thorough study of the Target intersection is the logical first step, from now on, but the estimated cost of the study of $300,000 is a hurdle that could drive the final nail into the project’s proverbial coffin, unless proponents of the study cannot find a way or means. to find financial support.
If private property is involved in an option deemed preferable, Allegheny Township officials, like PennDOT, would be right to reject involvement, as public money should never be allocated for anything on private property except, perhaps, in a rare case of special and crucial situation. circumstances that could withstand legal challenge.
Regardless of the potential repair effort that might be launched, there is no doubt that it should win the support of the relevant planning agencies.
County planning director Dave McFarland said a solution to the problem “require the participation, and possibly agreement, of the various landowners, business owners/managers and public sector interests in the region.”
It became more and more obvious.
“In hindsight, we can see that the intersection should have been designed differently (in the 1990s when Sierra North was built), but the township at the time didn’t benefit from the knowledge we have now,” McFarland said.
The Target intersection is a classic example of why planners must remain ever vigilant – and with them, elected officials who have the power to deal with small issues, or at least advise on certain considerations, before they do not become important.
Only giant growth, not any specific agency or entity, is responsible for the situation near Target that is causing so much discussion right now.