By Tribune-ReviewPublished: Saturday, July 7, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
Updated: Saturday, July 7, 2012
If you live in Western Pennsylvania, you don’t have to imagine chaos. Just get in your car, drive the Parkway West to Robinson and chaos spreads out before you.
The more than two-dozen shopping strips, one big mall and seemingly countless big-box stores, restaurants, hotels and office buildings that you find there will tell you everything you might want to know about how bad a lack of planning can be.
In that immediate area, we’ve not only created chaos, we’ve added costs that some of us pay daily, and we’ve lost environmental features distinctive to our region.
There are no fewer than two-dozen separate large developments there in a 1.5-mile radius that incorporates parts of four municipalities.
These developments often have no relation, visual or logistical, to one another. Road patterns are confusing. Sometimes it’s even hard to find a specific store, even if you have a precise address. And the roads are already inadequate for the shopping crowds that are drawn there. Just as bad, big blocks of empty land have been “leapfrogged” as each developer pursued his own scheme.
This 30-year-long, boom-town-type accretion of commercial miscellany is already a regional blight, even though it’s relatively new.
It has helped make the Parkway West one of the most jammed-up highways in the United States. And, perhaps what’s saddest, it has destroyed -- with all the earth-moving and hillside cutaways that have gone on -- one of the most visible and beautiful sets of hills in our region. We have hillside cuts there that rival what you used to see at strip mines.
This shouldn’t have happened, and we need to take its lessons to heart because we have several other key roadways -- the Parkway East and I-279 to the north that still look good and need some sort of regional protection right now before the same thing happens to them.