Traffic issue in Middletown attributed to student population increase

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – Student enrollment is up to more than 5,000 for Penn State Harrisburg. It’s good news for the school and the economy, but not so much for traffic.

The increased student traffic at the college is having an impact on neighborhood roads.

Joanna Cain has lived in Middletown for 15 years.

“My biggest concern is that I’ve seen people blow through both of these stop signs as if they didn’t even exist,” Cain said. “One night I saw two cars within five minutes do it!”

Cain’s house, just off Wharton Avenue, is less than a mile from the school’s campus. According to the college, they have seen a spike of 1,000 students within the past couple years — bringing them to more than 5,000 students.

Also increasing traffic is new students housing next door to Cain’s house, adding 500 residents to the neighborhood.

“I actually went to a council meeting and presented them with the problem and things I see as part of the solution,” Cain said.

The borough council listened.

Within the past six months many safety additions have been added to the problem street, Wharton Ave.

“[The painted stopping strips are] 10 inches wide instead of a standard 6 inch and they’re reflective in material,” Middletown Police Sgt. Richard Hiester said. “We’ve taken steps to place the reflective material on the sign posts and we have the blinking light on top of the stop sign that tries to catch more attention.”

The main goal is safety

“I have college-aged sons and I want them to be safe. You know, these might not be my kids but they’re someone’s kids and I want all of us to be safe. The people who have been residents here for years and people who are here going to college. It’s a two-way street,” Hiester said.

Police expect this two-way street to continue getting busier as as the Penn State Harrisburg population continues to grow.

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