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New Kensington seeks PennDOT help with left turns onto Carl Avenue

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

New Kensington Council plans to ask PennDOT for assistance in preventing left turns from Tarentum Bridge Road onto Carl Avenue.

City officials have been concerned about the number of accidents at the intersection near AutoZone, including a motorcycle crash in August 2012 that killed two people.

City Engineer Tony Males on Tuesday said he's reviewed the situation and, after talking with PennDOT, residents and businesses, he believes it would be safest to prevent left turns onto Carl from Tarentum Bridge Road.

“There appears to be erratic turning movements,” Males said of the intersection. “I would recommend that left turns be prohibited.”

He said speeding also has been an issue on the block of Carl between Tarentum Bridge and Craigdell roads.

Officials believe much of the traffic on the short residential block is generated by Lower Burrell-bound drivers using the street as a short cut to avoid the traffic signal at Tarentum Bridge and Freeport roads.

To prevent left turns, Males said signs would need to be posted and the pavement markings in the Tarentum Bridge Road turning lane would need to be changed with PennDOT's approval and assistance.

Males said PennDOT officials indicated to him they'd be willing to help the city with any changes desired at the intersection. While Carl Avenue is a city-owned road, the state maintains Tarentum Bridge Road.

A PennDOT representative could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Males said the Carl Avenue residents he surveyed favored changing the street to one way, while the businesses he approached wanted the road to remain the same.

Males said the city also could consider using speed humps, or larger versions of speed bumps, on Carl to reduce speeding, similar to their plans for Virginia Drive.

Councilman John Regoli Jr., who has spearheaded the drive to make Carl Avenue safer, said police presence should help reduce speeding and enforce the no-left-turns policy once it goes into effect.

“I do believe over time, you can train the public to not turn left,” Regoli said, noting other streets in the area where people obey the signs and don't turn left.

Regoli also asked Males to talk to PennDOT about changing the timing of the traffic signal at Freeport Road.

He questioned whether, after the green left-turn arrow, the light could change to solid green to give drivers the opportunity to still turn left if there is no oncoming traffic. Currently, drivers turning left can only turn when they have a green arrow.

However, Mayor Tom Guzzo said he worries whether that would make the intersection less safe and said he wants to see a study or review from PennDOT before any change is made.

Officials also asked Males to inquire why drivers can no longer turn right on red from Tarentum Bridge Road to Freeport Road near Taco Bell.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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