Shanks Church Road residents have had enough

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
This 2005 Jeep Wrangler landed in the yard of 1005 Shanks Church Road, the latest in a series of accidents on the curve between Williamsport Pike and Shanks Church of the Brethren. According to Pennsylvania State Police, Dalea Nelson, 35, was traveling east and lost control of the vehicle at 7:28 a.m. Aug. 28. She sustained minor injuries.

Lois and Jay Sensenig have photos of eight accidents that have occurred on the road in front of their house over the past five years. They were the result of people driving too fast on Shanks Church Road, infamous for a curve in front of Shanks Church of the Brethren.

The most recent crash happened near an elementary bus stop at 7:28 a.m. Aug. 28. It was the third day of school, but no students were yet waiting for a ride. The eastbound driver of a 2005 Jeep Wrangler lost control and rolled the vehicle onto its side in the yard of Shawn and Jill Zimmerman, house number 1005. Dalea Nelson, 35, was injured in the accident and Pennsylvania State Police reported she was not wearing a seat belt. The mailbox was destroyed and the westbound sign announcing the curve was damaged.

The couples, as well as their neighbors, want Antrim Township to do something about the road. The concerns have been brought up to the board of supervisors in the past, with no results.

The Sensenigs, across the street from the Zimmermans, have heard noises and found vehicles in their yard, and very close to their house. They have seen utility poles downed, mailboxes taken out, the church and cemetery signs struck, and the church itself impacted during the 13 years they have lived at 922 Shanks Church Road. The frequency of accidents has increased over the years.

All of the residents attribute the accidents to speed, wet conditions and inexperienced drivers. However, Jay Sensenig said the drivers have been local people who know the layout of the road. Most of the accidents are caused by people driving east toward Williamsport Pike. One was a collision; otherwise typically only one vehicle was involved.

And motorcycles were as much an issue as cars and trucks.

"Every time it rains, we get scared," said Jay Sensenig.

They and others have put large rocks into their landscaping to provide some protection from out-of-control vehicles.

Shawn Zimmerman has lost four mailboxes. Two vehicles came within 50 feet of his front porch.

"I'm just worried about my kids," he said. "We try our best to keep them in the back yard."

The couples and their neighbors don't have a unified opinion on how the road can be made more safe. Some are for and some are against reducing the speed limit from 35 miles per hour to 25, installing rumble strips, getting more police presence, or putting up a stop sign at the nearby Tranquil Way intersection, which has a secondary school bus stop. The remedies could be effective, or people may still not change their driving habits, they say. They know the secret is for drivers to slow down, and that slippery conditions do cause most of the accidents.

They want Antrim to do something.

"I don't want to wait until someone gets killed," said Jay Sensenig.

"The mailbox could have been a kid," added Lois Sensenig.