Mayor's persistance a good sign for Heidelberg
When he drives home from his teaching job at Robert Morris University, Heidelberg Mayor Ken LaSota sees what other travelers on Interstate 376 see: signs for Exit 65 that say simply “Carnegie.”
Soon those signs will include his borough.
As part of the multimillion-dollar Parkway West improvement project slated to begin in spring 2014, PennDOT will add two signs on I-376 East advertising the exit as the Heidelberg/Carnegie exit.
“It's important for people locating Heidelberg and businesses who want to come to Heidelberg,” LaSota said. “And then thousands of people coming from all over the world that land at Pittsburgh International Airport, when they drive into the City of Pittsburgh, they'll see Heidelberg.”
That isn't the case now. Though signs on I-376 West denote Exit 65 as the Heidelberg/Carnegie exit, those on the other side of the highway didn't match.
LaSota began pushing for a change four or five years ago, when U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, led a charge to re-label the Parkway West as I-376.
PennDOT told LaSota it wasn't possible to make the change then, even though the sign was supposed to include Heidelberg.
About three years ago, LaSota said, PennDOT put up a standalone sign for Heidelberg near the I-376/I-79 interchange.
When he heard about the parkway improvement project, which will include work from the I-79 interchange to the Fort Pitt Tunnel, LaSota resumed his push. He contacted Murphy's office and state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline.
Staff for both lawmakers contacted PennDOT.
“Two new sign frames for I-376 Eastbound are currently in the design stage,” Murphy's office said in a statement. “While no timeline has been identified, we are told signage will be replaced when the project is complete.”
Murphy also sent LaSota a letter informing of the change and thanking him for his “leadership on this important matter.”
LaSota hopes new signs attract development to the borough.
“We don't have a chamber of commerce in Heidelberg but most chambers of commerce would definitely promote the idea that a community is served by two exits off two major interstates,” he said.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.