2012-07-05 / Front Page

Road Project Could Raze Two Homes

Turn widening at Pitt Street, North Clear Ridge Road intersection to begin spring 2014
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER


The homeplace of Clara Mae Strait is one of two residences being eyed by PennDOT officials for demolition in conjunction with a turn widening and sight enhancement project at the intersection of North Clear Ridge Road and Pitt Street in Hustontown. The homeplace of Clara Mae Strait is one of two residences being eyed by PennDOT officials for demolition in conjunction with a turn widening and sight enhancement project at the intersection of North Clear Ridge Road and Pitt Street in Hustontown. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation staff or an appointed consultant is slated to begin the appraisal process of two homes PennDOT would like to purchase and demolish to help alleviate automobile accidents that have been occurring for decades in the village of Hustontown.

A release provided to the “News” by Tara Callahan-Henry, community relations coordinator from PennDOT Engineering District 9 in Hollidaysburg, indicates the current design for the proposed project at the intersection of Pitt Street and North Clear Ridge Road would require the “purchase of two homes.”

PennDOT elaborated in its documentation the two properties in question are the residences of Dick and Marge Clippinger and Clara Mae Strait. Strait’s home located on the sharp, downhill turn has fallen victim to multiple crashes and hit-and-run accidents, causing arrows to be spraypainted and reflectors to be adhered to the home’s block retaining wall.

Callahan-Henry stated a line of communication has been established with the Strait and Clippinger families. In fact, on June 12 PennDOT District 9 right-of-way administrator Ed Bettwy, civil engineer Tony Sundie and project manager Monica L. Farabaugh sat down with the affected property owners together at Strait’s home to discuss the project and provide a brief overview of the acquisition process.

In the event there would be a refusal to cooperate in the rightof way acquisition, the Eminent Domain Code would provide PennDOT with the legal means to obtain the parcel of property. A worst case scenario could entail the eviction of a person through a court order.

Clara Mae Strait’s sister-in-law, Debra Strait, told the “News” following their sitdown with Penn- DOT, “What can you say when you are told that the state is going to take your home and there is nothing anyone can do about it but accept it and move on.”

Debra and her husband, Art initially knew nothing of the proposed project aside from some rumors ciriculating through the community. They in turn called PennDOT directly and questioned them point blank about the possible demolition of the residence siblings Art and Clara Mae refer to as their homeplace. Within hours of their telephone conversation, PennDOT met with the Straits and Clippingers.

“They came and told us the news,” said Debra. “Hard. I don’t think that word describes it enough. It doesn’t just involve Clara Mae moving. It means that we have to find a place to live so that Clara Mae can move into our home. Asking her to move from the property she has known all her life would be too much.”

Current plans for Debra and Art Strait are looking into various options for moving. “Our prayer is that God will bless and better each and every family involved,” they said.

In addition, under the category of “right-of-way acquisitions,” PennDOT is also interested in “minor strip takes and temporary construction easements within the project limits.” The appraisal process in connection with these acquisitions is slated to begin this summer, PennDOT officials added. The initial cost for the project without any property acquisitions is estimated at $800,000.

Callahan noted in corresponding with the “News” that Penn- DOT’s plans are “preliminary and can change at any time. The project is currently in the preliminary engineering phase, and PennDOT is working toward obtaining the required clearances to move forward with the final right-of-way and construction plans.”

The work is anticipated to get under way in the spring of 2014 and conclude in late fall. According to Mary K. Seville, county planner, the project will coincide with additional improvements along Waterfall Road from the intersection of Great Cove Road to Taylor Road. That project also remains in its preliminary stages.

Specifically, the project within Hustontown will entail the lowering of the roadway by approximately three feet to enhance sight distance as well as reconstructing the intersection. Furthermore, North Clear Ridge Road will be widened to improve turning movement for northbound traffic, said PennDOT.

While the construction is ongoing, motorists will be routed using a single lane and a temporary traffic signal. Driveway access, PennDOT officials reassured local residents, will be maintained at all times.

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