A recommended proposal to connect North Street with the French Creek Parkway could have a big impact on truck traffic in Meadville and one business in particular.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s recommended proposal to link the two roads would run right through Sherry Distributors Inc., a beer distributorship at the intersection of North and Water streets.

It’s a more than $8 million dollar plan to improve intersections on North Street between State and Water streets and extend North Street west from Water Street to the parkway. The extension would be a T-intersection with the parkway, but could be a four-way intersection in the future. Construction could start in 2008.

The project is supposed to cut heavy truck traffic on downtown streets, like Park Avenue and Water Street, and put it on North Street. Often, big trucks use Park or Water to get to North, causing backups and delays when they turn onto North from another downtown street.

Final design work would begin next year.

A traffic study in 2003 found a truck bypass around Meadville wasn’t warranted based on traffic volume, said Bill Petit, PennDOT’s district executive. However, that study found most of the truck traffic was making local deliveries.

The improvement plan would reduce both general congestion and lines of traffic backed up when a truck is attempting a turn, but doesn’t have adequate room to maneuver, Petit said.

However, Steve Sherry of Sherry Distributors said he doesn’t see truck traffic as that great of an issue on North Street.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a problem,” Sherry told the Tribune. “I think there’s more truck traffic on Water Street than North Street.”

That’s because trucks are making deliveries to BiLo Foods and stores at the Downtown Mall, Sherry said.

Sherry and several others in attendance at Thursday night’s public hearing at Meadville Area Senior High School asked about the possibility of locating the connector road to just north of Sherry’s. However, that would run through some homes along Water Street next to Sherry’s.

Mike McMullen, project engineer, said that will be reviewed as a possibility and feasibility could be determined by early 2006.

Sherry hopes he doesn’t have to find a new location since the business sits on about two acres and has about a 25,000-square-foot building.

“I’d have to find a replacement in Meadville, but I don’t know where,” he said.

McMullen told the Tribune that if Sherry’s were to be displaced it would be PennDOT’s obligation to relocate the business.

Sherry isn’t alone in having some concerns.

To alleviate turning problems, PennDOT wants wider intersections from the side streets along North Street.

A wider intersection at North Main Street would impact Grace United Methodist Church since the church is on the corner of North and North Main streets as well as a Country Fair convenience store.

“I see a need to change the corner,” said Sarah Roncolato, the church’s pastor, who was at the meeting.

But, Roncolato also is concerned about one of the church’s entrances being even closer to the street.

“We’re part of the city of Meadville and we want what’s best for the city and the people who live here,” she said.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com

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