New signals will make traffic flow smoother in McKeesport
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 4:11 a.m.
Wires hanging from downtown McKeesport traffic signals look like they will be used for Christmas decorations.
Instead, they're part of an overhaul that may help improve traffic flow in time for the holidays — and allow increased traffic through.
That overhaul began on E. Fifth Avenue at Hartman Street and extends to Lysle Boulevard and Market Street.
“The signals that are up there now are from 1987,” city electrician Tom Rosso said. “There were some maintenance issues.”
Bronder Technical Services of Butler received a $1,015,000 contract as a subcontractor to Donegal Construction Co. of Greensburg's $5 million rehabilitation of Route 148.
The rehab work began last year between Route 30 in East McKeesport and Lincoln Way, crossing through North Versailles Township, White Oak and McKeesport.
This year's phase began between Lincoln Way and Hartman, and extends to River Road.
“(Bronder's work) consists of the replacement of all signal heads,” Rosso said. “They are going to be (light-emitting diodes), which will stay consistent with our cost savings.”
Rosso said LEDs with watt usage reduced from 135 to 14 saved the city $20,000 a year.
The signal heads themselves are black to improve visibility, and pedestrian signals all have 10-second countdowns from “walk” to “don't walk.”
They also will be set so that lights stay green for through traffic unless a vehicle is at a turning lane or at a side street. Rosso said it will mean less stop-and-start traffic on Lysle, which will benefit motorists.
“All the turning lanes will have advanced arrows if there are cars in the lane,” Rosso said. “(Now,) those arrows come up no matter whether there is a car there or not.”
Likewise, lights would turn red for all Lysle traffic on a timed system, even if no cars waited at cross streets.
A Bronder crew chief said the contract has a Nov. 15 deadline. Donegal is expected to finish its work on Lysle Boulevard in late November.
Bronder foreman Gino Bowser was in McKeesport a year ago when new signals were installed for the Coursin Street flyover ramp.
He said recent work on four signals between the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge and Hartman Street “was more of a beauty treatment.”
Downtown, Bowser said the work includes replacements for older equipment that has become worn or corroded. Replacements include a radar system that will replace loops put in below ground.
“The equipment is called Wavetronix,” Rosso said. “PennDOT (was) using video cameras to detect the cars on the side streets and the turning lanes. Now they are using consistent, reliable systems using radar waves.”
“It sits up at the top of the poles,” the Bronder foreman said. “It monitors as the vehicles are coming up.”
It also can read if emergency vehicles need to roll through.
“They're putting preemptions in for the fire department, the police department and so forth,” Bowser said.
“All emergency vehicles can access the light to give them a safe passthrough, to stop traffic safely,” Rosso said.
Some equipment hasn't arrived yet. Bowser said controllers and other devices are on back order.
“The project does include all new solid state controllers in each intersection, with a master controller at Center Street overseeing the whole system from Lincoln Way all the way to Market Street,” Rosso said.
The project also involves upgraded pedestrian crossings with new signals. Placards will be made available at the handicap-friendly crossings to explain the signals.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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