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Bottleneck at Breezewood
The Pennsylvania Turnpike has an amusing way of building interchanges. Take for example, Carlisle in Cumberland County. In order to access North-South I-81 from the Turnpike, every driver must enter a two mile gauntlet over Route 11 jammed with truck traffic, stores, restaurants, hotels, gas stations and other businesses before you find the entrance ramp to continue your journey on I-81. Or try getting off at Morgantown where you enjoy a Merry Go Round of ramps that eventually lead you to I-176 that takes you to Reading. And then there’s our own Breezewood Interchange where each motorist must take a 2 mile joy ride in each direction just to replenish their fuel, rent a hotel room or eat a sandwich. There is also a curious out-of-the-way intersection from the Eastbound Turnpike with I-70 which sends you off to Baltimore or Washington after you’ve gone the wrong way for several miles.
In 2016- 2017, three articles were published in the New York Times, Reading Eagle and the Wall Street Journal exposing these mindless traffic patterns and the two lane bottleneck at Breezewood. One of the suggestions made by writer Charlie Savage, was to re-locate the Breezewood interchange to where I-70 and the PA Turnpike meet. What a concept! If the interchange was rebuilt where the two roads actually cross, egress and exit ramps would head you in the right direction without conducting a treasure hunt for the correct highway. It seems to me this would be a tremendous economic opportunity for the truck stops, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and every other service business now struggling to survive in a shabby Breezewood littered with empty lots and the ruins of run down former motels. With the re-alignment, entering and exiting at the “new” Breezewood would be, well a Breeze!
The new interchange would enable newer hotel brands and restaurants to take advantage of a more convenient and improved rest stop which would empower present businesses to modernize and expand. Prior to 1968 when the Sideling Hill and Raystown tunnels were decommissioned, Breezewood, was a lot more convenient to travelers. A realigned Breezewood at the crossroads of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-70 would make it easier for travelers to use this excellent location and most assuredly create more tourism and visitors for all of Bedford County by creating a modern and more attractive gateway to Bedford County. This change would provide an exceptional location for a “Visitors Bureau Welcome Center.”
According to Carl Defebo, PR Director for the Turnpike Commission, the 350+ mile highway in undergoing an enormous “Total Reconstruction” project that will eventually reach Bedford County. Perhaps this may be the ideal opportunity to free Breezewood from its bondage of congestion. The McDonald’s franchisee at Breezewood has probably heard the famous admonition by its founder Ray Kroc who said, “When you’re green you grow and when you’re ripe you rot! Eliminating the Bottleneck at Breezewood would bring a breath of fresh air and open the gates in Bedford County to more visitors.
Lloyd Bankson Roach
(Mr. Roach is the former Chairman of the Chester County Transportation Management Association. (TMACC) and the son of Isaac Roach, who served as a Traffic Safety Consultant to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in 1939.)
‘(Apology for Major) Lapse In Judgment’
Since my alcohol-related car crash nearly two weeks ago, I haven’t been able to forgive myself for the grievous offence. Thankfully, nobody else was involved. I am, however, aware that I caused property damage…By way of this letter, I wish to apologise not only to the property owners, but to the Bedford Area community, particularly those whose lives I could have affected, but thankfully did not. Whatever issues or troubles I sought to erase with the bottle were obviously better suited for behavioural therapy, and/or taken up with a counsellor. I regretfully resorted to the former, and am now, needless to say, the worse for it…My sincere hope is that the good people of this community can find it in them to forgive me for the careless transgression.
Yours faithfully,Austin P.