DALLAS — Over 100 concerned residents met at Pizza Bella on Monday night in an effort to prevent the construction of a roundabout in the heart of the borough.
The $4 million project, a single-lane traffic circle comprising Main, Church and Lake streets, Machell Avenue and state Route 415 (Memorial Highway), has been purported by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Dallas Borough to facilitate traffic flow and increase safety. Those gathered vehemently disagreed.
Sue Hand, owner of Sue Hand’s Imagery, said the roundabout would result in congestion in other areas of the borough.
“The traffic is going to be bumper-to-bumper, no one is going to want to let cars in from the side streets,” she said. “It’s going to be a bottleneck.”
Hand said although the road is owned and maintained by PennDOT, she believes that borough officials had originally proposed the project.
Sandra Serhan, an organizer of the group “Stop the Dallas Roundabout,” which has a Facebook page with the same name, said, “We are not a hate group. We are a group of concerned individuals wanting to maintain Dallas as a hometown community.”
Serhan expressed concern about travel through the roundabout during warmer weather when people were trying to make their way to Harveys Lake.
“Can you imagine people with boats trying to make it through the roundabout?” she said. “Well, they said it’s actually an oval.”
Residents also expressed concern about the ability of trucks and emergency vehicles to navigate through the proposed roundabout.
Serhan said PennDOT described the roundabout as “being constructed for current need.”
“Current need?” she said. “Are they going to rebuild it in the future when the borough has different needs?”
Several residents said they believed a simulation of the roundabout generated by PennDOT was inaccurate, greatly underestimating the number of cars passing through the area.
Owen Faut, of Dallas, said his concern was for the safety of those trying to cross the street.
Brittany Harper, owner of the Man Cave on Route 415, agreed.
“Many students from Misericordia (University) walk over to get haircuts,” Harper said. “How will they get across the street?”
Faut said he would hope that people would find alternate ways to alleviate traffic, especially residents travelling into the Wilkes-Barre area.
“On the mornings when I go to take the bus, I notice that 80 to 90 percent of the cars have one or two persons in them,” he said. “Whatever happened to people taking the bus?”
Faut, a retired chemistry professor at Wilkes University, said he remembered when borough officials, doctors and other professionals took the bus together.
“Buses were full,” he said.
Petitions were available for attendees to sign and circulate.
Serhan encouraged those gathered to contact state and local officials with a message of “stop the roundabout.”
In response, PennDOT officials have cited improvement of traffic flow, increased safety for pedestrians and cost-effective use of funds in moving forward with the construction, which is expected to take about three years to complete.
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLGGibbons.