Editor, Gazette:

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has an interesting way of building interchanges. Take for example, Carlisle in Cumberland County. In order to access North-South I-81 from the Turnpike, every driver enters 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 2016-17, 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-plus-mile highway is undergoing an enormous “Total Reconstruction” project that will eventually reach Bedford County. Perhaps this undertaking may be the ideal opportunity to free Breezewood from its bondage of congestion. The McDonald’s franchisee at Breezewood no doubt has 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

Bedford

Former chairman of the Chester County Transportation

Management Assoc.

Contact Elizabeth Coyle at ecoyle@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 105.

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