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Replacing small Logans Ferry Road bridge causes big traffic snarls

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 5:27 p.m.
A small bridge along Coxcomb Hill Road in the Logans Ferry section of Plum is closed and under construction. The area is shown Tuesday Oct. 3, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A small bridge along Coxcomb Hill Road in the Logans Ferry section of Plum is closed and under construction. The area is shown Tuesday Oct. 3, 2017.
A cluster of detour signs posted Tuesday Oct. 3, 2017, at the Parnassus intersection in New Kensington direct motorist around a bridge under construction about a mile away in the Logans Ferry area along Coxcomb Hill Road (Route 909) in Plum.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A cluster of detour signs posted Tuesday Oct. 3, 2017, at the Parnassus intersection in New Kensington direct motorist around a bridge under construction about a mile away in the Logans Ferry area along Coxcomb Hill Road (Route 909) in Plum.

The construction company that is replacing a short but well-traveled bridge is urging that something be done to alleviate traffic congestion caused by the closing of Logans Ferry Road in Plum.

Traffic has backed up severely on Old Leechburg Road at Greensburg Road as drivers follow the posted detour to get around the closure on Logans Ferry (Route 909).

Logans Ferry closed near Entrance Drive on Monday afternoon for the removal of a bridge over a defunct railroad spur. PennDOT estimates that about 12,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily.

The closure is scheduled to last until mid-December.

Monday evening, traffic was backed far up Old Leechburg — reportedly almost to Sardis Road, said Jeff Rossi, a spokesman for contractor Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners.

Plum police Chief Jeff Armstrong said traffic on Old Leechburg was backed up more than a mile at one point, mostly because of drivers having to wait to make a left onto Greensburg Road.

Armstrong said he has proposed a temporary traffic signal to stop traffic on Greensburg Road (Route 366) and allow people to turn from Old Leechburg.

Rossi said the contractor has discussed the issue with Plum police and has presented it to PennDOT.

“I'm not sure what approach they'll take. We'll see,” Rossi said. “I have no idea what they're planning to do with that, if anything at all.”

A PennDOT representative could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Signs ignored

Various problems have been seen closer to the bridge, on both sides, with cars and trucks.

Cars and trucks have driven past warning signs and continued on right to the bridge, and had to turn around — sometimes with great difficulty.

“People are still heading down (Coxcomb Hill),” said Blair Cessna, owner of Blair Auto Sales. “They'll pull up, look at the sign for a minute, then turn around and head back up the hill.”

Rossi said truck drivers who are apparently following GPS devices are not paying attention to signs and getting into spots where they have to turn around.

“I can't help them when they don't read signs,” he said.

Truck drivers coming down Coxcomb Hill Road have been turning around in the parking lot of Dale Fleming's auto service shop, damaging his lot.

“Once they're down here, they have nowhere to go,” said Fleming, who said he's now blocking his lot.

“We're hoping as time goes on, things will get better.”

While cars coming from New Kensington toward Oakmont have had to do three-point turns, some didn't bother Monday night, according to Fleming.

They drove around — and over — the road closed signs and right over the bridge, which is still there for now.

“It's been a different ordeal down here,” Fleming said.

Rossi said drivers soon won't be able to keep going through, as more equipment is brought in and, eventually, the road's surface is removed.

Proposal: Signs at Columbia Road?

On the New Kensington side, Fleming and Armstrong have both suggested signs at Columbia Road, where it would be easier for vehicles to turn around.

“That would be really good to help the motorists if they don't know what's going on,” Fleming said.

But even as police chief, Armstrong said it's not up to him.

“These are state roads,” he said. “All we can do is make suggestions to them, and it's up to them to evaluate our suggestions. They're traffic engineers. I'm not.”

Rossi said signs were set up following established standards. No changes can be made without PennDOT's approval.

PennDOT reviewed the signs and found them adequate, Rossi said.

“People have to read the signs,” Rossi said. “If they don't read them, they're going to get stuck.

“I think it's going to be bad for the next couple of days,” he said. “The worst is always in the beginning of these projects. It usually does smooth out.”

Logans Ferry Heights impacted

Armstrong said some drivers were cutting through the Logans Ferry Heights neighborhood, causing increased traffic there.

Armstrong said there's not much his department can do about it, except for strictly enforcing speed limits and other traffic laws.

He said there should not be large trucks along Entrance Drive because it's too narrow and has sharp turns, and there are signs telling truckers not to go that way.

“It's a matter of people not paying attention to the signs, because there are signs that tell you where to turn,” Armstrong said.

Staff writer Michael Divittorio contributed to this report. Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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