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West Deer wants county's help to solve 'slick' problem

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 1:27 a.m.
A car attempts to turn off of Middle Road Extension onto Route 910 in West Deer. There have been complaints that the surface of the road is 'too slick' and therefore unsafe. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Sunlight is reflected on Middle Road Extension in West Deer as a motorist attempts to turn onto Route 910. There have been complaints that the surface of the road is 'too slick' and therefore unsafe. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

West Deer supervisors are trying to figure out how to make what they claim is accident-prone Middle Road Extension safer for drivers.

Last month, a township police officer wrecked one of the department's squad cars there while responding to an accident.

The car skidded into a utility pole on a rainy day when the road was slick.

Since then, police Chief Jon Lape said there have been three more accidents along the same section of road.

“It's slick,” Lape said.

The police car was taken out of service, and the supervisors are planning to get a new police car next year.

Middle Road Extension is an Allegheny County road, and supervisors blame the county for the accident-inducing problems.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said it appears that county officials have not been notified about the situation.

“We are always happy to hear concerns, and we do our best to address them,” she said.

Township Manager Daniel Mator said that if repaving a road is too expensive, adding tar and chip is a cheaper alternative to smooth out and protect the road, extending its life by a few more years.

“That's a way to stretch a buck,” Mator said.

However, township officials say that the last time the road was tarred and chipped, the county added little or no stones to the mix, which is used to cover the asphalt.

So now the road is coated in a protective oil, which township officials claim makes the road abnormally slick when it rains.

Although the county recently spread sand on Middle Road Extension to help texturize the surface, township officials say they are hoping the county will find a more permanent solution.

Guardrail solution sought

Supervisors also are concerned for the safety of pedestrians who routinely hop a guardrail along the Culmerville bridge.

On one side of the bridge is the Yanicko Funeral Home, and on the other is the funeral home's parking lot.

When visitors park, they often hop over the rail, cross the road and enter the funeral home, instead of walking to the end of the lot where there is an opening for pedestrians.

Some township officials have suggested cutting out a section of the guardrail to create an opening and improve access for pedestrians, who wouldn't have to risk jumping over and getting hurt.

However, Mator said he spoke to Allegheny County officials, since it's a county road, and they said that cutting the guardrail is not an option.

He said he was informed that the guardrail is required to meet a minimum length and that shortening it could create a liability for the county.

Sarah Kovash is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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