By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The city should protect the existing institutional zone, build a network of sidewalks, open new east-west secondary road connections and develop a town center master plan for pedestrians.
All of those recommendations are part of a Pa. Route 18 North Corridor study presented to the city commissioners during a workshop Thursday by Gannett Fleming Inc. of Pittsburgh, the consulting firm hired to help draft the study.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will widen a 2.6-mile section of the highway from two to five lanes between U.S. Route 62 and an existing four-lane section of the roadway to the north.
The $15 million project will be completed over the next two construction seasons, and the city wants to be ready for anticipated development in the area.
The details of the study, outlined by Brian Funkhousen and Toby Fauver of Gannett Fleming, were almost identical to an earlier version offered at a public input hearing in April.
McConnell Road: One proposal that raised a lot of objections then, the opening of McConnell Road all the way from Route 18 to North Keel Ridge Road, has become one of the plan's recommendations.
It is open only at Route 18 now and residents have said they preferred to keep it that way.
The study shows it being opened to through traffic but with some restrictions, Fauver said, including some speed humps (elongated versions of the speed bump) and perhaps a type of roundabout halfway between Route 18 and Keel Ridge to slow traffic.
Both he and Funkhousen stressed that the study recommendations aren't written in stone but are presented as a likely scenario for controlling development of the area for the next two decades.
City Manager Gary Hinkson said the commissioners could vote to accept the study at their meeting next week but that doesn't mean they will automatically accept its recommendations.
A lot of review is likely before a final plan is implemented, he said.
Other recommendations: Other study recommendations include:U'Build a new east-west connecting roadway between Route 18 and Keel Ridge Road at a location north of the municipal building property.
U'Require commercial developments to share driveways and parking areas to limit access to Route 18.
U'Rezone a vacant planned technical park area north of Lamor Road to a mixed use "Transitional Business" district.
U'Set up a bicycle/pedestrian advisory committee.