PennDOT has granted a permit to Portage Township to install flashing lights on both approaches to the Route 53 Jamestown Arch.

It comes after state engineers developed a design for the “wigwags,” which are being installed to improve safety through the heavily traveled area.

“We’re here to lend technical support,” said John Ambronisi, PennDOT district traffic engineer. “We will help them in any way we can. But the department doesn’t own electronic devices.’’

The township already has agreed to buy and install the lights along with covering the monthly electric bill for operation and any maintenance.

Supervisor Ed Decort said the lights will require two separate connections. It remains unknown how much the project and monthly expenses will total.

In June, PennDOT estimated $12,000 for the lights and installation and $60 a month for utilities.

“We are moving on it,” Decort said of the design turned over for review to township engineers the EADS Group of Somerset.

The next step is for the township to seek bids. No timetable is available on when bids could be awarded and the work completed.

The lights stem from a lobbying effort by a Portage area college student nearly two years ago.

He set his sights on more extensive improvements at the 1896-circa stone railroad arch.

Wednesday, Tyler Trimbath again vowed to push for more than just warning lights.

“Once those lights go on I’ll be perfectly happy. But this is going to be a long battle, and I’d like to think that this is just the beginning,” said Trimbath, a Portage Township resident who passes through the arch daily going to Mount Aloysius College in Cresson.

The answer is to realign a significant portion of Route 53 on both sides of the arch, said Trimbath.

“This (the lights) is not eliminating the problem at all. And I’m not going to stop until it gets fixed,” he said.

Trimbath, also an elected member of the Portage Area School Board, thinks the current configuration is an accident waiting to happen.

Highway officials estimate the realignment Trimbath is pushing for could run $6 million – making it a candidate for the state’s 12-year plan. But getting put on the list is a formidable task.

Even just signal lights on both sides of the arch would be more than $60,000, a project the township would have to fund.

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