Since 2011, there has been much buzz about the possibility of a new Sheetz Convenience Retail Store and Automotive Fuel Sales Facility, being built in Slippery Rock area. Many have thought of what it would look like, if it would be a bigger success than the current Sheetz in Slippery Rock, and how the Sheetz will impact traffic flow in the area.
The new Sheetz, which will sit at the corner North/ South Main Street (SR 0208/SR 0173), and New Castle Street/Franklin Street (SR 0108), will encompass approximately 6,900 square feet, with a lot encompassing a total of 89,000 square feet. Because this is an already busy traffic area, the Slippery Rock Borough teamed up with David E. Wooster and Associates, Inc., to perform a transportation impact study to determine how much the Sheetz would impact traffic in that area.
Slippery Rock Borough Plans Examiner and Building Official, Robert Koch, explained the main reason why Slippery Rock decided to perform the study.
“The borough wanted to perform the study to try to reduce the accident rate in the area, and make things safer,” Koch said. “The traffic volume in the area will become lot greater than it is now.”
A scooping meeting was held on May 26, 2011, to discuss the traffic study. Attendees included representatives of the PennDOT District 10-0, the Slippery Rock Borough, Sheetz Inc., and Wooster Inc.
The study initially focused on car crashes in the area. The study pinpointed on the intersections of North/South Main Street and New Castle Street/Franklin Street, Franklin Street and School Drive, North Main Street and East/West Water Street, and East/West Water Street and School Drive/Private Drive. Out of the four intersections examined, the most accidents, a total of six, which occurred between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 10, 2010, happened at the North/South Main Street and New Castle Street/Franklin Street intersection, the exact location of the new Sheetz.
To reduce the risk of accidents in the area, there will no longer be any parking in the street, where parking is currently available. Even though parking will be removed along the street, sidewalks will still remain and new sidewalks around the perimeter of the Sheetz will be constructed so the area is safe for pedestrians.
Along with the removal of parking, both School Drive, between Legion Street and Franklin Street and Legion Drive, along North Main Street will be vacated due to the size of the lot of the Sheetz. The total roadway area to be vacated is approximately 7,900 square feet.
Due to the predicted increase of traffic volume in the area, the design of the Sheetz lot was heavily taken into consideration. The parking lot will include three different full access driveways. One of the driveways is proposed to be let out onto Franklin Street, at the current location of School Drive. Another full access driveway will be located along North Main Street, north of it’s intersection with Franklin Street. A right-in, right-out driveway is also proposed to be located along North Main Street.
One issue that may occur while entering the right-in driveway, is the location of the fueling stations. Because they are located towards the front of the lot, this may cause traffic to become backed up, holding up traffic on North Main Street.
Even though a traffic backup could be a possibility, the eight fueling stations were placed at the front of the lot specifically for easy maneuverability by costumers that are driving a vehicle. The Sheetz convince store will sit at the rear end of the lot. This placement will allow for those who chose to walk to the Sheetz, to avoid any pedestrian, vehicle conflicts.
Ryan Bauder, the assistant manager at the current Sheetz, said that the news Sheetz will be a lot more convent for drivers.
“I don’t think the location of the new Sheetz will cause any traffic problems whatsoever,” Bauder said. “The location is more convenient, and the parking lot will be much easier to drive through because it will be pretty big.”
The study also focused on the annual traffic growth rate in the area, and how that could increase the traffic around the new Sheetz. The traffic growth rate in the area is approximately 1.58 percent per year, showing that the traffic volume around the location of the Sheetz may increase, due to a growth in annual traffic in the area.
Not only did the study focus on the traffic in the area for the new Sheetz, it also focused on the traffic around the current Sheetz, located at the corner of North Main Street and East/West Cooper Street. This helped predict how busy the traffic around the new Sheetz would be, based on the store and gas station itself, and not just the location. The current Sheetz, sits on a much smaller lot, with a smaller convenience store, and only four fueling stations. Due to the size of the lot, there isn’t much room for vehicles to maneuver around, and there is limited parking. Even though the new Sheetz may be located at a more congested area, a lot of the issues within the lot will be avoided, due to it’s size.
Slippery Rock University student, Matt Pleso, believes that the new Sheetz won’t cause any major traffic problems due to it’s location.
“I think that it won’t cause any more traffic problems than what the current Sheetz causes with backing up traffic and with it’s tiny parking lot,” Pleso said. “I think it will really be a nice thing to have in town.”