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PennDOT unveils plans for improvement of Route 222

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 10 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 11 2012 05:03:19 PM CST

Will it be roundabouts or traffic lights? Those are the options PennDOT has been throwing around to help improve a busy stretch of Route 222.

READING, Pa. -

Route 222 is the main route between Reading and Allentown, but it's also dominated by heavy truck traffic and is a nightmare for drivers during rush hour.

"It's just backed up, and it takes a long time for people to get through the intersection," said John Brumbach, who lives near 222 at 73. 

During a public meeting on Wednesday, PennDOT unveiled its first-glance plans to improve three intersections along the busy corridor.

"At 73 and 222 it looks like we are leaning towards a signalized intersection," said Michael Keiser, PennDOT's assistant district executive for design.

PennDOT showed plans that include two lanes in each direction with a center turning lane. About 2,500 feet up the road, PennDOT wants to put in a roundabout at Genesis Drive and Tamarack.

Another problem area is the intersection of 222 and 662. PennDOT is recommending another roundabout there to help relieve congestion.

"You're going around that circle, and especially a big truck, I just think roundabouts aren't a good idea," said Neil Thomas. 

Then, there's 222 at Long Lane, just north of the Kutztown Bypass. The idea there is to develop it into a five-lane signalized intersection.

"For all three construction projects we look at construction costs being in the neighborhood of about $30 million," said Keiser.

PennDOT officials said their plans fit with the long-term goal of widening 222, but it brings mixed opinions.

"Well something needs to be done, but I don't think the roundabouts will work," said Darlene Reinert, who lives off 222.

"It looks like we're going ahead and making an honest effort to do something about it," said Brumbach.

PennDOT said its plans are not set in stone. It will have more meetings in the next couple weeks, but hopes to start construction on at least one of the projects by spring of 2014.