Flight 93 memorial brings traffic, other changes

The crash of United Flight 93 on September 11 changed Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in many ways. The curious instantly began streaming to the site just off the Lincoln Highway/US 30, and entrepreneurs began servicing the visitors. The western of the two access roads from Route 30 crosses an original alignment of the Lincoln. A temporary memorial continues to draw visitors, but the National Park Service has a larger memorial planned.

PA_Flt 93 motel

An article in the Daily American reports that local coal trucks are often involved in accidents, and when the Flight 93 National Memorial opens after 2011, US 30 is expected to carry as many as 400,000 more travelers a year. The Flight 93 National Memorial Corridor Study identified a preferred route to guide visitors to the memorial, which ultimately has to travel Route 30. At two public meetings, locals said the road should be wider, better maintained, and have fewer coal trucks. A traffic engineer said the accidents appear to be “relatively isolated incidents.”

The corridor study concludes that the significant horizontal and vertical curvature of the roadway and the corresponding restrictions on sight distance and the heavy volume of truck traffic make traffic safety a paramount concern. This is especially true for a two-thirds-mile stretch east of the intersection with Old Lincoln Highway, the study reported.

The study counts some 400 vehicles traveling to the site daily, and 900 on weekends. Once the new memorial opens, 400,000 are expected annually before tapering to 230,000.

The entrance will be from a third, more easterly location, where Old Lincoln Highway meets Route 30. The intersection would be reconfigured, probably affecting the remaining buildings from the former Emerald Park tourist camp and tavern. For now, PennDOT is planning improvements east of Stoystown including replacing three bridges, and adding turning lanes at the intersection with Route 403.

Locals responded to the flow of cars by creating yard sales, commemorative objects, and businesses to serve visitors. The photo above shows the Long Vu Motel just west of Reels Corners with a new name and sign promoting it’s connection to 9-11. Adele’s Diner across the road was in the news recently for similarly renaming to the Heritage Highway Restaurant, a nod to the range of history along the Lincoln Highway.

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