AT Underpass is Coming to PA

Will keep hikers from becoming roadkill

Citing the insane danger, Cumberland County, PA just approved the Appalachian Trail’s first purpose-built highway underpass at Wertzville Road in Middlesex Township.

I remember this little obstacle on the trail—it’s just north of the I-81 overpass in central PA, which, incidentally, is a very nice place to strike a muscle pose for passing cars, as Pythagoras did so iconically in 2007.

Once you emerge into the shoulder-grass, you basically have to stop, concentrate, listen really hard and then all-out sprint because the crossing is at a dip in the road and there’s a curve about 200 yards away that cuts off the sight line.

It’s sort of like Sean Connery entering Alcatraz in The Rock — the part where he rolls under the furnace, right before he says all regally, ‘Gentlemen, welcome to The Rock.’

The Wertzville Road underpass probably elevates the Palisades Parkway in New York to the AT’s Most Hazardous Road Crossing. That one’s a highway, and cars (only) cover the whole sight line in mere seconds, thus turning the crossing into a high-stakes game of Frogger.

And if you spend the night at the William Brien Memorial Shelter, you’ll be at the crossing just in time for morning rush hour.

Don’t forget to look both ways.

—Casey Lyons

Appalachian Trail to get its 1st highway underpass (AP)