DALLAS — A roughly $3 million road project in Luzerne County’s Back Mountain is moving forward, and it’s stirring up quite a controversy. PennDOT said in a few year’s time, a frequently used five-leg intersection will become a roundabout.
Maryann Ochman’s family has owned a coin and jewelry store in Dallas for 33 years. This February, they’re moving, not because of a loss of business or a bad neighborhood, but because of a roundabout project that’s moving forward.
“Our business cannot afford three years of construction and to lose half of the parking. It just can’t,” said Maryann Ochman.
The roughly $3 million project would turn the five-leg intersection into a single lane circle without traffic lights.
PennDOT said it would be safer and ease traffic. Jeff Lowery from Harveys Lake agrees.
“I think it’d probably help out because that road going out from Harveys Lake, it backs up all the time, so they need to do something here,” said Lowery.
However, some nearby residents said there’s no problem now, and the change will be an inconvenience. Wanda Ryniec lives on Machell Avenue, one of the streets that will be directly impacted by the roundabout.
“I’ll have to use another street, and go down a few blocks just to get to my home,” said Ryniec.
Ochman’s isn’t the only business concerned with the roundabout. The manager at Fino’s Pharmacy said they’ll lose access to their business, and with the roundabout cars won’t stop.
“They’ll have to go completely around the store and deal with the merging traffic with the people coming on to get into the circle, and on the back entrance. They can only get in from the one way,” said Fino’s Pharmacy manager Dominic Fino.
While Fino’s stays put, Maryann Ochman hopes her move will help the business.
“These four walls are my life. They’re small, but this is my life and to leave it, not because of something we wanted to do but because we’re forced to, it’s upsetting,” said Ochman.
PennDOT held several public meetings to get input on the proposed project that is in the final design stages. It will go out for a bid in 2014. Construction is expected to last two to three years.
See animations of the proposed roundabout below:
Animations Courtesy: McMahon Associates