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Traffic study stalls plans for former Consol headquarters in Upper St. Clair

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 5:42 p.m.

Developers of the former Consol Energy headquarters in Upper St. Clair will have to wait more than a month so they can account for additional traffic created by a new Target store nearby.

Representatives of 1800 Washington Road Associates presented their plan for Siena at St. Clair, a retail, grocery and residential development, to the township planning commission on Thursday but asked the panel to postpone a vote so the developers can re-evaluate their traffic studies after the Target store at South Hills Village mall has been open for at least 45 days, said project engineer Dale Earl.

Target, located on the ground floor of the former Boscov's, will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 5, a “soft opening” on March 6 and a grand opening event on March 10.

Since public discussion of the development began in 2011, Upper St. Clair residents have worried about traffic at Route 19 and Fort Couch Road and whether it would be aggravated by development plans. Most of those who have expressed concerns live on or near Fort Couch Road or in the Springfields housing plan, south of the development tract.

Siena at St. Clair is “a beautiful development, but I've heard nothing about the impact on traffic on Fort Couch Road. That desperately needs to be addressed,” said Nancy Barnard, who lives off Fort Couch Road. “I'm glad that a grocery store is planned for this side of Route 19, so I don't have to cross over. ... The traffic lights are ridiculous if you try and go north.”

Earl said the main entrance for the retail part of the site will be off Route 19. A secondary entrance for retail and residences would be off Fort Couch Road.

He said developers will build an additional eastbound lane on Fort Couch Road, along with a small traffic island near the secondary entrance that would prevent left turns into or out of the development from that side.

“A right-turn lane (on Fort Couch Road) is critical,” said Randy Shaffer of Fort Couch Road. “I'd love to have it. It's long overdue.”

PennDOT estimates that 10,000 vehicles per day traverse Fort Couch Road west of the intersection, where the development will be. Nearly 25,000 motorists a day travel the east side near South Hills Village, and about 16,000 vehicles per day go through the intersection in each direction on Route 19.

Representatives did not mention potential tenants at the meeting, but Whole Foods Market has signed a lease for the anchor spot along Route 19.

Architect Justin Cipriani said in an interivew that the developers were negotiating with Burgatory and Starbucks for two slots in the two-story shopping center that would be built about the spot where Consol's office building used to be.

A little more than half the parking for Whole Foods will be beneath the store, along with its loading dock, to keep it from being too visible to neighbors.

Retaining walls and hills sloping down from Fort Couch Road and Fieldgate Drive should prevent cars' headlights and parking-lot lighting from shining on neighbors, Cipriani said.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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