Wayside turning lane studied
WEIGH SCALES - PennDOT is studying the possibility of installing a two-way left turn lane on Route 61 near Masser's Wayside Inn, which has been the scene of 10 crashes in the past five years, one of them a fatality.
It was also the scene of an accident July 13 that injured motorcycle rider and Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman Cory Thompson, 29, of Shamokin, who remains hospitalized. He is recovering from critical injuries he suffered when his motorcycle was rear-ended by a Jeep driven by a 17-year-old female from Shamokin. The Jeep's driver has not been identified by Ralpho Township police due to her age and an investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Thompson has undergone eight surgeries since the crash.
It was the Thompson crash that prompted family members to contact state Rep. Kurt Masser, R-107, who contacted PennDOT about the study. Masser is the owner-operator of the Wayside Inn.
Thompson's mother, Andrea Rollman, of Shamokin, who is starting a petition to have a left
turn lane installed at the intersection, stated, "That accident would never have happened if there was a left turn lane. I'm pushing Sen. John Gordner, Masser and PennDOT for the change because there have been similar crashes in the same area over the years that could have been avoided with a left turn lane."
When contacted Saturday afternoon, Masser said he fully supports the two-way left turn lane at the intersection.
He said, "I haven't seen any plans for it, but I certainly believe it's needed due to the number of accidents at that intersection over the years, including bad crashes that resulted in death or serious injuries."
Masser, who believes the turn lanes would be installed in both directions of the highway if approved, said he's anxious to see what PennDOT's study reveals.
He pointed out that a left turn lane installed at the intersection of Route 61 and the tunnel leading to Irish Valley has helped reduce the amount of crashes in that area.
PennDOT anticipates the study will be completed by the end of August, Dave Thompson, community relations coordinator for PennDOT Engineering District 3-0, said Friday.
Overlook Boulevard joins Route 61 on the east side of the highway across from the Wayside, while Township Route 892 actually cuts through the Wayside parking area near the building.
PennDOT records show one crash at that location in each of 2009 and 2010, three in both 2011 and 2012 and two in 2013. In addition to the fatality, which occurred in 2011, there was one crash that resulted in moderate injuries and four that caused minor injuries to those involved. Four of the 10 involved only property damage, according to PennDOT.
Records for 2014 won't be compiled until the end of the year.
Thompson said many factors are considered for creating turning lanes, including traffic volumes, truck volumes, number of turning vehicles, opposing traffic volumes, roadway geometry and crash history.
"The department also must consider current roadway and roadside conditions as well as the potential impacts of any proposed changes to residents and businesses," he said.
As far as a traffic signal being installed there, a study would be needed as well.
"Generally, the responsibility for installing and operating a traffic signal rests with the municipality where it is to be located," said Thompson, in this case Ralpho Township.