State College

Harris Township officials ask for Hess Field driveway safety adjustments

Regional parks officials will consider whether to budget next year to widen and realign the driveway into the Hess Field complex, based on a request from Harris Township.

With ever-increasing traffic at the softball field complex off state Route 45 — more than 700 games have been played there each year since at least 2011 — township officials are concerned about the vehicle passing zones near the driveway and the ability to see when pulling out onto Route 45.

Manager Amy Farkas said the township is concerned about a potential lawsuit, should someone be injured or killed in the area of the driveway.

However, the Council of Governments has jurisdiction over the area, as the COG acquired the complex in 2010 as one of three regional parks.

“We were concerned that there’s conflict there because people can pass and come out at the same time,” Farkas told parks committee and authority officials last week. “We believe the passing lane should be removed from Hess Field.”

Officials asked Parks and Recreation staff to look into the Harris Township request and concerns and bring back more information on possible actions.

The township asked McCormick Taylor Inc. transportation engineer Robert Watts to review the area.

He found that the driveway slope and width make traffic access to the complex complicated, that traffic moving in and out of the complex creates a queuing concern, and that passing vehicles on Route 45 create safety concerns during high field activity.

Communications from Farkas and Watts indicated that the state Department of Transportation previously had reviewed the passing zones near Hess but offered no recommendations for changes.

Farkas said the township will work with PennDOT to get a review during game times, “so they can understand what Hess Field is.”

“It’s a ticking time-bomb,” she said.

Parks Capital Committee Chairman and Patton Township Supervisor Jeff Luck said it doesn’t make sense to do anything to the driveway area that doesn’t change the COG’s legal liability.

“I’m not interested in getting proposals for making the entrance nicer or making it easier to get in or out,” he said.

“Unless the municipalities want to contribute more money,” added Ferguson Township Supervisor Dick Mascolo.