By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Hermitage commissioners gave their blessing to a plan to make truck access to Joy Cone Co. easier by agreeing to buy a small piece of land and then giving it to PennDOT.
Joy Cone, 3435 Lamor Road, received a state Regional Capital Assistance Grant for just under $1 million for the bulk of the project, moving the company’s main entrance on Lamor slightly east, and building a new entrance on Valley View Road that will not be open to big trucks, said city and company officials.
The projects are designed to make the Joy Cone property and the Lamor Road area safer and ease some of the traffic congestion in front of the plant and at Lamor and North Hermitage roads, said Joy Cone Facility Manager Greg Ceremuga.
As part of the project, Joy Cone will pay to increase the turning radius on the southeast corner of Lamor and North Hermitage. In support of that project, the city is buying property of two-hundreths of an acre from McGonigle Investments for $6,700.
Commissioners approved the deal Wednesday, and introduced an ordinance to sell the property to PennDOT – both roads are state roads – for $1. A public hearing and final vote on the sale was set for July.
Once the work at Lamor and North Hermitage is complete, trucks will have an easier time making the swing onto Lamor, cutting some of the traffic congestion caused by wide swings.
“This clearly isn’t the end-all, long-term solution to some of the issues there,” said City Manager Gary P. Hinkson. “This will help.”
The volume of traffic on the roads, along with the short distance between the Valley View Road-Lamor and Hermitage-Lamor intersections, causes traffic backups and conflicts, city officials have said.
One of the long-term solutions officials had eyed was eliminating the Valley View-Lamor intersection and building a connection between Valley View and North Hermitage. That plan has been shelved for the time being due to an inability to buy sufficient land for the connection, Hinkson said.
Ceremuga said sugar cone production is at the north end of the plant, and those employees must pass through the truck loading dock to get to the north parking lot. With the new Valley View entrance, employees will be able to bypass truck traffic altogether, he said.
The main entrance also is “pinch point” where trucks, cars and employees walking to and from their cars converge, particularly at shift change, Ceremuga said.
The grant requires a match, but Joy Cone met that with its 210,000-square-foot addition undertaken in 2010. The plant put in new bulk flour handling, batter- and dust-collections systems, cake ovens and air compressors.
Kirila Contractors Inc., Brookfield, has been hired with work expected to begin Aug. 1 and take about three months to complete. On site, the Valley View connection will be made first and then work will begin at the main entrance. Ceremuga said he expects there will be little if any effect on motorists on Valley View or Lamor during construction.