22/322 crash raises concerns about 11/15 work next summer

DAUPHIN, Pa. (WHTM) – A crash on Route 22/322 in Dauphin County early Monday really fowled up the morning commute.

Around 6 a.m. police said a tractor trailer driver lost control in the eastbound lanes just past the Rockville exit in Middle Paxton Township. The tractor trailer, carrying live chickens, ended up on its side and on fire. Chickens crossed the road, but it was no joke.

The crash closed Route 22/322 in both directions.

“Well, getting to work today is pretty much an impossibility,” said Miranda Metz of Middle Paxton Township.

Some people waited it out until the eastbound lanes reopened. Others fought backlogs on Route 11/15.

Next summer, that will not be an option. PennDOT plans to close Route 11/15 near Marysville for 90 days beginning in May. They will clear the rock slopes and do work to prevent rock slides.

“It was constructed in the 1930’s. It’s time we go back there and clean up the slopes and we feel that we have to do that,” said Mike Keiser, district executive for PennDOT. “I wish there was a way we could do it without closing the roadway.”

People who travel through that area often are concerned.

“When they shut down 11/15, too, I’m honestly not even exactly sure what we will do,” Metz said. “Through Halifax to Tower City and back in – by the time you get to do that, that’s an hour-and-a-half to two hours.”

Keiser said if a crash happens on Route 22/322 next summer, they have an incident management plan.

“They’re the what-ifs. Who do you contact? And again coordination with local police, state police,” Keiser said. “Is it something that we can step away from and manage until the peak traffic volumes are off the roadway, and go back and recover the truck at a better time frame so we’re not interfering with commuter traffic?”

PennDOT is also considering shortening the construction time frame.

“Can we do that in 10 weeks? Something like that. Try to get incentives for the contractor to minimize that,” Keiser said. “If there was a problem with the rock slope, we could’ve been in a situation where both of them were closed this morning. I think if you step back and you look at it from that perspective, then you say wow, you really have a problem,” he said.

Drivers seem to understand that.

“I mean, it’s frustrating, but I also understand the situation,” Metz said. “It’s part of the topography of the area.”

Keiser is asking drivers to have patience and to help by using caution.

“We see a lot of folks out there that are making some decisions that you just wonder, hey, you’re trying to get to work a minute quicker,” Keiser said. “Is it really worth it?”

Photo credit: Gerry Stone

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