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Action to rename McKeesport ramp after fallen officer could come next week

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 4:41 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Motorists head down the off-ramp from the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge to Lysle Boulevard in downtown McKeesport. Sen. James Brewster's Senate Bill 1225 would rename the off-ramp for slain McKeesport police Officer Frank Miller Jr.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Occasionally, hikers and bikers will head up the off-ramp from the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge to Lysle Boulevard in downtown McKeesport. Sen. James Brewster's Senate Bill 1225 would rename the off-ramp for slain McKeesport police Officer Frank Miller Jr.

Final action could come as early as next week on a bill renaming a McKeesport bridge ramp for a slain city police officer.

State Sen. James Brewster's bid to honor the memory of Officer Frank Miller Jr. took another step toward reality on Tuesday when the state House Transportation Committee unanimously approved his Senate Bill 1225.

It would rename the off-ramp from the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge toward Lysle Boulevard for Miller, 25, who served the police department for six months before his death on Nov. 10, 1993.

“The bill ran clean,” committee member Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, said. “There were no amendments.”

He said the bill could get second and third considerations next week, then go to Gov. Tom Corbett's desk.

“There's a 60-day effective date after he signs it,” Kortz said.

Miller was walking a downtown beat patrol when he was shot with his own weapon during a scuffle with reputed vagrant Andre Harper, then 39.

“Officer Miller was very deserving,” Kortz said. “It was a terrible tragedy.”

Harper was convicted of first-degree murder in 1996, then retried after an appellate court ruled his original counsel didn't present evidence that he suffered from schizophrenia.

Harper was convicted again in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Kortz said his committee gets quite a few requests to rename bridges and highways, many for military personnel who died in action in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“I think it is very appropriate,” Kortz said of SB 1225. “I am glad Jim brought it to the Senate.”

There Brewster found 13 co-sponsors from both parties, including Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills, Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, and Senate Transportation Majority Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery County.

The Senate passed it unanimously on May 6.

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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