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I-79 Kirwan Heights Exit Name Change Angers Some

PennDOT recently renamed the Kirwan Heights interchange of Interstate 79 to “Collier Exit” and not everyone is happy about the change.

recently renamed the Heidelberg/Kirwan Heights interchange of Interstate 79 to “Heidelberg/Collier Exit” and not everyone is happy about the change.

blasted the decision saying it could cause confusion during emergency calls near Exit 55 of I-79, while also erasing the village along Route 50 from the interstate map.

“They’re taking away the history of this community and all the small communities around this area,” said Lewis, who also lives in the Kirwan Heights neighborhood of Collier Township. “With a rivet gun, they just wiped Kirwan Heights off the map.”

PennDOT made alterations to the interstate exit signs this week after asked in January for the changes. Township Manager Sal Sirabella said they approached PennDOT about the change to give Collier more of a “brand identity” to passing motorists.

Sirabella said many people don’t know where Collier Township is even though .

“It’s just one of many things we’re going to be doing to develop and give Collier a little bit of an identity,” Sirabella said, pointing to the Collier Community Park at the former Nike Site. “It’s just part of the branding we’re trying to do here.”

and mentioned more signage on major highways. But Lewis said he had no idea they would change the interstate exit’s name.

He’s concerned that this rebranding of Collier Township is taking away from the history of the small villages–some of the others include Federal, Presto, Fort Pitt, Cubbage Hill and Rennerdale–that were major landmarks for coal mines and railroads.

“They want to take away all the history of the township,” Lewis said. “They’re taking away of all the identities of these communities.”

PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said it wasn’t a difficult decision, however, because Kirwan Heights is not a municipality. He said it was a natural fit to transition to “Collier Exit” because that is the reigning municipality.

“It made sense from our perspective because Kirwan Heights is a community within Collier Township,” Struzzi said.

Of course, it also raises questions if other municipalities will petition PennDOT to change nearby interstate exits. For example, the Bridgeville interchange at Exit 54 is actually in South Fayette.

“I hope it doesn’t open a can of worms,” Struzzi said.

Lewis also pointed to the Carnegie exit, which is really in Collier Township, and wondered why that exit wasn’t changed instead. Ultimately, he hopes Exit 55 can be altered to include Kirwan Heights again.

“It’s a shame that this is what happened here,” Lewis said.

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Terry Evangelista July 19, 2012 at 01:01 PM
So why didn't they change it from Heidelberg to Scott Township since you have to drive through Scott to get to Heidelberg?
Tom Lewis July 19, 2012 at 01:50 PM
A little late for this comment.......“I hope it doesn’t open a can of worms,” Struzzi said. Your can of worms just turned into a hornets nest. On the same note, Mr Sirabella--"passing motorists" don't make up a community and it doesn't matter whether it's within the township or not. How many generations have grown up and supported the growth of these smaller communities to help strengthen Collier Township as a whole? I'm not against Collier boosting it's identity, in fact the more attention it gets the better it is for the whole area. The right thing to do was to simply add Collier to the sign, not cover up Kirwan Heights. As Mark said, "he hopes exit 55 can be altered to include Kirwan Heights again" but in this case--hope isn't an option. I'll bet it doesn't get added back to the sign and if it does, not as quickly as it took PennDot to cover it up. Just one persons opinion.
p.graham July 19, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Do Kirwan Heights residents have a Bridgeville zip? Scott Twp. was always been unknown because we have Carnegie as our zip code. I think we have 4 or 5 postal codes in Scott.
Bill Lacey July 19, 2012 at 04:37 PM
There ia a Carnegie Exit off I-376 (Parkway West) and a Carnegie Exit off I-79 that is in Collier Twp. Would it have not made better sense to change the I-79 Carnegie Exit to the Collier and accomplish the identity issue as well as eliminating the confussion of what Carnegie Exit are you talking about. Why would the Township sacrifice one of its own community identies when it has been a recognised icon since the Interstate was built. The exit has always been the Kirwan Heights Exit, it will now be identified as the Heidelberg exit because no one has any idea who or what Collier is. If the identy was the sole factor, why doesn't it say Collier "Twp"?
Rob Lives July 19, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Why don't they just list every town that you can travel to/through off of the exit, that way there will be no more confusion.
Sherry July 19, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I agree with Bill L. Why not add Collier to the Carnegie sign and not take anything away from the signs as they are just add to them....its going to get confusing
Kathy Lewis July 19, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Years ago, three "Welcome to Kirwan Heights" signs were purchased and installed by the residents of Kirwan Heights, as these residents are proud about the community we live in. These signs were removed by the township, disposed of, and replaced with "Welcome to Collier Township", just another way of removing our small communities identlty. Kirwan Heights has long been known as the forgotten community. We have no representation to the township boards, (prior representation never accomplished anything for this small community, so the attitude of "why bother" was adopted by many), no park for the Kirwan Heights children to play at (though other communities no matter how small has one for their children), and comments of development, other than housing throughout the township has always met the statement of "just keep it on the other side of 79". You need to think, why was this signage change done, BEFORE the article hit the news?? The township officials new the heat they would take regarding this "Branding" idea. The comment of "the residents of Kirwan Heights would not care" obviously was wrong, maybe they should have talked to a few of them BEFORE taking this action. Maybe the Ward system should be readopted to this growing community so all communities will be respresented by someone from each local area, instead of someone from another who is more concerned about their own neighborhood. The residents of this community should keep this all in mind come elections time.
Jerry July 20, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Here's a question to ponder. The Carnegie exit on I-79 is actually in Collier Township. The Carnegie Exit on the Parkway is actually in Scott Township. Why change the exit that was labeled correctly?
Mark Lewis July 20, 2012 at 09:17 AM
These all seem to be simple ways to make things right............. now let's see if Collier Twp. and Penn Dot will do it before the Govenor's office or attorneys have to be involved!
trusgold July 20, 2012 at 08:26 PM
well it seems right Collier is what is the whole surronding area. You cant argur with geography
John Moretown July 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Aaaaahhhhh beats hands on chest! No one will take away my little kingdom!!!!
Heidi Lewis July 21, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Highway signs are not meant to be publicity for a community. They are meant to be clear markers for a traveler. Could you imagine driving all of the highways that ring the city, if all of the signs simply said "Pittsburgh"? I mean, technically, that is where you are exiting to, right? I think the bigger problem here is Collier's commissioners willingness to overlook everything dealing with Kirwan, with the exception of collecting money off of the large tax base. Just look up the article on the patch about Sirabella telling the residents of Kirwan they weren't willing to deal with the local factories and their pollution, in his words, because neither he or the commissioners "have a problem." Maybe the Kirwan residents should consider taxing the tax base from all of the retail centers, and become their own entity.
John Moretown July 22, 2012 at 03:24 AM
What happens if someday I have friends and they're unable to find where I live??
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