The project will use about 200 feet of Thompson Road as the jail's access point.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County will seek bids in January for the construction of a 266-bed county jail in Findley Township.
The $18 million project will be funded through a $30 million bond issue the county borrowed last year.
The Mercer County Prison Board authorized construction Wednesday after finalizing the lot design for the 31-acre site at the southeast corner of Pa. Route 258 and Thompson Road.
The site is near the minimum-security State Regional Correctional Facility in the township. Construction will take about 18 months.
The prison board decided to go with a design that will require using about 200 feet of Thompson Road as the main entry and exit to the driveway for the new jail.
That's upsetting to some Thompson Road residents who had been told the county planned to build a direct access driveway off Route 258 and wouldn't use Thompson Road.
That plan fell apart when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation determined there wouldn't be sufficient "line-of-sight" clearance for a driveway connected directly to Route 258, said James Epstein, county district attorney and prison board chairman.
The state said that, with the 55 mph speed limit on Route 258, a clear line of sight of 875 feet is needed. Connecting a driveway to the highway would give no more than about 600 feet, said Sheriff William Romine, a member of the prison board.
The new plan calls for Thompson Road to be widened and improved at the Route 258 intersection for the driveway.
Both Lisa Miller and Forrest Bochy, residents of Thompson Road, said the plan adds to safety concerns because it puts increased traffic in their area.
Miller said residents are disappointed with the change in plans.
They fear there might be other changes that will adversely affect them, she said.
"I just feel like we're being jerked around," she said.
Diane Glarrow of L. Robert Kimball & amp; Associates of Ebensburg, Pa., project architects, said various directional and traffic signs will be placed around the area to keep jail traffic from traveling further on Thompson Road than the driveway.
Bochy said he is concerned that water running off the driveway will cause flooding problems for the resident who lives directly across the street from it.
Glarrow said the driveway won't have curbs so water can run off both sides and not pool up at the end. There also will be catch basins at the end of the driveway to divert runoff water into a natural wetlands area and a storm-water retention pond, she added.