Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s award-winning PennDOT Connects program is working with a local community to increase safety and address livability by reducing traffic speeds in the borough of Youngwood.
Youngwood, which is located in Westmoreland County, is neighbor to a confluence of high-speed roadways – Interstate 70; the main Pennsylvania Turnpike; the Amos Hutchinson extension of the Turnpike, Pennsylvania Route 66, which is part of the Greensburg bypass; and the U.S. Route 30, the Ed Hutchinson Bypass. Even the main route through town, U.S. Route 119, is four lanes, and the downside is the high-speed traffic continues unabated within the town.
As part of the PennDOT Connects program, PennDOT’s District 12 and the borough are teaming up to take steps to calm the traffic on Route 119 using an approach known as a road diet. The State Transportation Innovation Council also has championed road diets across Pennsylvania. The utilization of road diets was a Federal Highway Administration Every Day Counts Round 3 initiative that Pennsylvania adopted. Road diets have also been tried in Carlisle in Cumberland County, Sharon in Mercer County, Boalsburg in Centre County, and Beaver Falls in Beaver County.
PennDOT Connects began as a policy issued by former Secretary Leslie S. Richards to strengthen the commitment of PennDOT to collaborate with Metropolitan Planning Organizations/Rural Planning Organizations and local governments during the planning process. PennDOT Connects identifies community needs and contextual issues early in project planning through a collaborative process. In 2019, the “PennDOT Connects – Connecting Communities” initiative won in the Quality of Life/Community Development Small Project category in the regional America’s Transportation Awards competition.
Road diets are one example of the innovations growing out of the STIC. The aim is to deliver the very best transportation services to communities across Pennsylvania. STIC is a collaboration between the FHWA and PennDOT and features extensive outreach and collaboration with the highway construction industry, local governments, and other entities.
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