The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 5, 2013

VIDEO: PennDOT tweaks plans for Goucher Street

JOHNSTOWN — Residents and business owners along Goucher Street west of Johnstown have made it known they don’t like parts of a proposed safety project.

PennDOT is listening.

Its District 9 engineers have tweaked the $3.5 million project, hoping the result will bring about the safety improvements while also addressing concerns that have been raised.

“It’s a safety project. It’s going to help the people,” Thomas Prestash, District 9 engineer, said as he outlined the changes at the Westmont Church of the Brethren on Wednesday.

“Part of our process is to hear the community.”

Some of the biggest changes deal with the number of trees that likely will be removed as part of the mile-long project running from Dundee Lane in Westmont to Westgate Drive in Westwood.

The project, funded with 80 percent federal funds and 20 percent state, is scheduled to begin in spring 2014, a year later than originally planned, Prestash said, to allow completion of improvements on Menoher Boulevard.

That project will use Goucher Street as part of a planned detour.

Project engineers took a hard look at a number of items that generated opposition, including the number of trees taken out in an effort to improve sight distance at intersections.

Original plans to remove 58 trees have been changed to reduce the number to 51.

“We are literally going back and looking at every tree,” Prestash said. “During construction, if there is any way we can save a tree, we will.”

No figures are available, but Prestash said a number of new trees will be planted in areas farther back from the highway.

Steps are also being taken to reduce the length of proposed detours taking traffic to a single lane.

A short-term detour will be implemented rather than a longer one on Goucher Street, in response to business concerns.

Also in response, the project eliminates proposed turn restrictions at Emmett Drive and Entrance Drive.

One of the biggest reasons for Prestash and his assistant, Vince Greenland, to meet with the media was an attempt to dispel rumors about the project that are in circulation around the community.

“This is not an extensive widening of Goucher Street with excessive detours, and there will be no center barrier on Goucher,” Prestash said.

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