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Glassport to receive traffic signal updates

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 4:11 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
A driver makes a left turn onto Fifth Street from Monongahela Avenue during an afternoon commute through Glassport on Monday. Signals at this intersection will be one of three sets replaced in a project funded by an Automated Red Light Enforcement grant.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Glassport's outdated traffic signals, including this one at Fifth Street and Monongahela Avenue, will be replaced in a project funded by an Automated Red Light Enforcement grant.

Traffic signals that date back to the 1990s will be replaced this year in downtown Glassport.

“Our lights haven't been changed in 18 years,” council president Terry DiMarco said on Monday.

“When you have lights you no longer can get replacement parts for, it is time to change them,” police Chief Howard Kifer said.

DiMarco, who also chairs council's street and light committee, secured a $53,200 share of $420,838 in Automated Red Light Enforcement funding going to PennDOT District 11.

All of that money will be used for the installation of light-emitting diode traffic signals.

DiMarco said the borough's consultant, Senate Engineering, determined the ARLE grant would cover all three traffic signals on Monongahela Avenue.

“It will be cost-efficient and safety-efficient,” the council president said. “We are going to save a lot of money on electricity.”

DiMarco said the borough sees an eight-month time frame for completion of the work, beginning with advertising for bids because the project will exceed $18,000.

The lights will facilitate emergency units, including police, Citizens Hose Co. No. 1 volunteer firefighters and Clairton EMS ambulances. There will be controls on those new lights at both the police station and the Citizens fire hall.

“It is a great asset to emergency services,” Citizens Chief Wayne Lewis said. “As of right now, no matter what the situation may be, we have to stop (at the red lights).”

DiMarco and Lewis said the new systems will be similar to those installed along Lysle Boulevard and Long Run Road in McKeesport, and at the W.D. Mansfield Memorial Bridge linking Glassport and McKeesport with Dravosburg.

“We pushed to get some sort of signaling system for the Mansfield Bridge,” Lewis said.

ARLE funds come from fines paid for infractions at 21 intersections in Philadelphia.

Statewide, 268 municipalities applied for $25.4 million in ARLE funds, from which $4.7 million will be handed out to 43 municipalities and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. The law specifies that projects improving safety, enhancing mobility and reducing congestion can be considered for funding.

“There's not too many grants out there anymore,” DiMarco said. “We got in on this one at the right time.”

SPC will get $172,500 to assist the installing of LED traffic signals at 40 intersections across a 10-county area.

In District 11, covering Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, McKees Rocks ($117,338), Millvale ($45,800) and Richland Township ($32,000) join Glassport as beneficiaries.

In Glassport, Monongahela Avenue is both the main business street and a key link between McKeesport, Clairton and Elizabeth. DiMarco said 1,300 vehicles travel that street every day.

PennDOT officials in Harrisburg said projects were selected by an eight-member committee based on criteria such as project benefits and effectiveness, cost, local and regional impact, and cost sharing.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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