This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will begin construction of a project designed to make Route 241, or Colebrook Road in North Cornwall and West Cornwall Townships, less dangerous and easier to navigate. Essentially, the project consists of two major phases.
A traffic roundabout will be installed on Route 241 where it intersects with Rocherty Road. In addition, about a mile further north on Route 241 – towards the Cty of Lebanon – the dangerous S-curve between Creekside Drive and Mill Road will be straightened.
“PennDOT is constantly looking for cost-effective ways to improve safety on roads like Route 241,” said Dave Thompson, PennDOT’s community relations coordinator for District Eight, which includes Lebanon County. “Roundabouts are just one of those ways. The realignment of a roadway or the elimination of a curve might be another. There are concerns with sight distances on that road. These are engineering tools used to eliminate driver error. By doing these types of improvements, we’re trying to make the roadways safer with designs. But we need drivers to do their part. We need people to drive safe.”
The $3.4 million Colebrook Road construction project is slated to begin during the week of March 22. The project will take about seven months to complete and should be finished by November 2021. During that time, drivers may encounter intermittent lane closures and traffic flaggers. At some point, a detour will re-route traffic on Colebrook Road, but the course and timing of that detour have yet to be determined.
“I’d really like to emphasize that we will have workers on this roadway, human beings,” said Thompson. “I want to encourage people who drive through this project to do so with caution. Just give our workers space to do their jobs. We want people to be safe, for their sake and for that of our workers as well.”
Pennsy Supply will serve as the main contractor for the construction project. The early phases will include tree trimming, tree removal, drainage upgrades, milling, paving, and pavement restoration.
“Projects like this typically go through a design phase where various types of improvements are considered,” said Thompson. “After it’s been designed, the project is bid. We will take the lowest responsible bid and review it. Once the bid is accepted, the contract is awarded. Then, after a notice to proceed date is set, construction begins.”
The traffic roundabout at the ‘T’ where Rocherty Road and Route 241 come together is expected to eliminate the need for the Rocherty Road stop sign, slow traffic, but also make its movement more efficient, provide greater visibility and simply make that area safer. The roundabout – or circular intersection or traffic circle – is believed to be only the second such traffic tool installed by PennDOT on Lebanon County roads.
“It’s a circular intersection that doesn’t require vehicles to stop,” said Thompson. “Vehicles entering will yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. Basically, they’re a device to improve traffic flow and safety. We take a lot of things into account when we construct a roundabout, things like efficiency, traffic flow and improved safety. I really don’t know the history of roundabouts. But they’re being seen as a useful tool to manage traffic. I’m not sure how far back they go. But they really lessen the severity and frequency of head-on crashes and T-bone crashes. They also improve congestion issues.”
The S-curve on Colebrook Road between Creekside Drive and Mill Road is well-known as one of the most dangerous stretches of roads in Lebanon County. Construction there will straighten that portion of Route 241, making it more easily navigated.
“It’s a significant curve there,” said Thompson. “Any time we can remove a curve, it’s a good thing. Crashes can occur on curves. I’m not sure what the crash rate is there, but in general, they can occur.
“I don’t know exactly what it will look like when it’s completed,” added Thompson. “But I do know they’re going to straighten it out in some way.”
While Route 241 is certainly a well-traveled road, it cannot be considered one of Lebanon County’s major thoroughfares. On average, some 5,910 vehicles travel through that portion of the Colebrook Road corridor on a daily basis. In the north, the Lebanon County portion of Route 241 originates in the city of Lebanon at Route 72. Route 241 is about 19 miles long and ends in Elizabethtown, in a northwest portion of Lancaster County.
Travelers of Route 241 use it as convenient way to access South Annville Township and South Londonderry Township’s Mount Wilson, Colebrook and Lawn, while it also helps them connect with Route 322, and indirectly, Mount Gretna residents with the city of Lebanon.
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