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New road cover to improve safety on Route 30, other crash-prone intersections

August 12, 2018
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PennDOT’s High Friction Surface Treatment is seen shortly after installation on Route 88 in Dilliner, Greene County.

PennDOT plans to spend about $1 million to help motorists in four Southwestern Pennsylvania counties stay under control as they stop and navigate selected roads -- including Route 30, which agency data shows had more severe accidents than any other roadway in Westmoreland County over the past five years.

This year’s High Friction Surface Treatment project in PennDOT District 12 includes eight major intersections in Westmoreland County along routes 22, 30 and 119. Each location will gain extra texture to help drivers come to a stop and avoid rear-end collisions.

According to PennDOT, each intersection will be surfaced with a high-friction aggregate such as bauxite and a polymer resin binder. The overlay provides skid resistance in wet and dry conditions and also extends the life of the paved road.

The overlay treatment was first used in Pennsylvania in 2007 and has since been applied at 247 locations in 45 counties. Since 2014, the treatment has been used at 50 locations in PennDOT District 12, which also includes Fayette, Washington and Greene counties.

This year’s additions in Westmoreland County include: Route 22, at Trafford Road and at Cozy Inn Cutoff Road, both in Murrysville; Route 30, at Ronda Court and at Thompson Lane, both in North Huntingdon, and at Lewis Avenue and at North Greengate Road, both in Hempfield; Route 119, at Willow Crossing Road and at South Grande Boulevard, both in Hempfield.

“Route 30 is a higher average daily traffic corridor, and speeds sometimes are higher,” said District 12 traffic engineer Bryan Walker. “This surface application will help people stop at red lights.”

According to a Tribune-Review analysis last fall, Route 30 was the location of Westmoreland County’s most severe traffic accidents during the previous five years. Over that period, there were 1,960 accidents reported on Route 30, including 55 classified as severe.

During those years, there were 720 accidents on Route 22 in the county, with 23 deemed severe.

Federal highway safety money will pay for the surface treatment. In addition to intersections on major highways, “It helps on winding back roads where speed limits are a little higher,” said District 12 spokeswoman Valerie Petersen. “It can be placed on sharp curves, which helps the driver grip the roadway better.”

In Allegheny County, the high-friction treatment is slated for sections of Noblestown, Beulah, Burchfield and Coraopolis Heights roads. Among those stretches of road, Beulah saw the most accidents -- 20 from 2014 through 2017, with one suspected serious injury, according to PennDOT.

According to the online Crash Modification Factors Clearinghouse, high-friction surface treatments in general have resulted in 52 percent fewer crashes on wet pavement and 24 percent fewer crashes on curves.

Pennsylvania’s first trial use of the treatment, in 2007, was on an 800-foot section of the southbound lane of Route 611, at a curve in Northampton County. There had been 13 wet pavement crashes along that stretch in the preceding decade. There were none in the eight years after the treatment.

A current PennDOT study of 46 treatment sites in 17 counties shows that crashes on wet pavement fell by 91 percent - from 220 during the three years before installation to just 19 in the first three years with the treatment in place.

Comparing the same periods, crashes involving single vehicles running off the road fell from 263 to 62 ­-- a 76 percent reduction.

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