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Brownsville, Broughton realignment, planned for decades, improves flow

The newly opened intersection of Brownsville and Broughton Roads in Bethel Park.

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Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Sparta Gyros was struggling in its location on Brownsville Road and a 2½-year road improvement project that ran past the South Park restaurant didn't help matters, said a worker at the family-run business.

“Oh, we had a big decline in business,” said Nicolette Wardzinski, whose mother owns the 5-year-old restaurant.

The realignment of the Brownsville and Broughton roads intersection cost $8.9 million and was completed two months ahead of schedule, Allegheny County officials said this week. The county's Public Works Department worked with PennDOT on the project.

Owners of businesses and homes near the intersection said the road project has improved traffic flow, but some retailers said their businesses suffered because orange traffic cones, barrels and construction signs closed parts of the roads, slowed traffic and spurred drivers to take detours.

“We avoided this whole area for a long time. It just took forever to get through,” Baldwin resident Patty Goller said Tuesday, during a stop at a Sunoco gas station in South Park near the intersection.

A realignment of the intersection, which is along a key path between the Route 88 and Route 51 areas, was planned for decades. The intersection is in South Park, Baldwin Borough and Pleasant Hills, near a border with Bethel Park.

In 1976, the intersection was deemed the “single worst intersection for green-cycle time,” because of the heavy congestion, among all intersections studied by the Allegheny County Planning Department that year, Steven Smallhoover, design project manager, said.

The project included upgrading five intersections with signals, turn lanes and more than a half-mile of roadway work. Signals are linked with computers that monitor traffic demands, and change the timing accordingly, Smallhoover said.

Work was done while two PennDOT projects — a bridge replacement on Curry Hollow Road in Pleasant Hills and an intersection improvement at Broughton and Baptist roads in Bethel Park —took place.

During construction, some customers bypassed Pape Flooring on Brownsville Road because they incorrectly believed barrels blocked the parking lot entrance, said Dan Villella, a sales consultant. The store has been at its Brownsville Road location since 1978.

“It was just an inconvenience,” he said.

Business returned to normal when crews removed traffic cones and barrels a few months ago. Now, “It's a better flow. … It's great now,” he said.

Tory N. Parrish is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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