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No let up in sight for Washington Pike traffic woes

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:04 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The Bridgeville Area News
Traffic congestion remains a problem along Washington Pike in South Fayette and Bridgeville, and some say it has hindered economic development.

Many in Bridgeville can speak to the traffic headache that Route 50 can become when it backs up, but former planning commission chair Bob Fryer says the problem goes beyond that.

Bridgeville's business district, he said, never has had a chance to flourish because the main borough throughway — Washington Pike — cannot handle the influx of traffic from the surrounding major arteries.

The four-lane highways of Route 50 and Interstate 79 converge onto the two-lane Washington Pike along with Bower Hill Road, which is also four-lanes before narrowing to two as it nears the city center of Bridgeville.

To the east is South Hills Village, with four-lane roads leading to the shopping center from all directions — Bower Hill Road and Painter's Run Road from the west, Conner and Fort Couch roads from the east and Route 19 from the north and south.

South Fayette businesses don't stand a chance, Fryer said. The ease of access to the South Hills from both I-79 and Route 19 make it the obvious choice for area consumers.

“Unless South Fayette, Bridgeville and Collier come together to solve the traffic congestion nightmare on Washington Pike … the main consumers in the southwest quarter of Allegheny County will continue to move away from the South Fayette, Bridgeville and Collier business districts,” Fryer said.

The solution, he said, is simple: widen the rest of Washington Pike — the portion that runs through Bridgeville — to four lanes. While the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has a plan — one it developed in conjunction with South Fayette's Newbury Market — Fryer said it is not what's best for the area.

The current plan calls for adding new traffic signals at the intersections of Washington Pike and Route 50 and Washington Pike and Chartiers Street. It also calls for adding a 165-foot northbound left-turn lane on Washington Pike. In terms of the I-79 ramps, it calls for an additional northbound left-turn lane on the southbound off-ramp.

Fryer's plan is to widen Washington Pike and parts of Bower Hill Road to four lanes. He said the widening could be done without disrupting current structures along the road.

“We don't want the Newbury/PennDOT plan built,” he said. “It will hurt the people and business owners of South Fayette for years to come.”

South Fayette Township Manager Ryan Egglestein said that traffic has been an ongoing problem in that section of the township, and it is something that the township has been working on in conjunction with both Fryer and PennDOT.

“It's something we're still trying to review,” he said. “There are a lot of variables, and we want to look at how to figure out how to alleviate some or as much of the traffic problem as possible.

Egglestein said that the township has been working with and getting feedback from Fryer for a while, but they are also working with PennDOT, which ultimately has the final say.

In terms of alleviating traffic on Washington Pike, Egglestein said widening the stretch to four lanes is “definitely” something the township is looking at.

“That's something we're looking at a long-term thing to do,” he said. “We're not sure at what point we'll come to a final decision, but that's definitely something we're looking at.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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