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Murrysville to spend $27K more on Route 22 lights

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Murrysville officials will sink another $27,000 into the efforts to synchronize the traffic lights along Route 22.

While officials await for state Department of Transportation officials to review the paperwork from the Route 22 project, the municipality will conduct a $22,000 timing study and spend $5,000 on engineering plans to fix the years-old problem of bad timing.

“This should be a one-time deal, just timing how traffic moves through,” chief administrator Jim Morrison said. “Then, we can decide on how we want to move traffic.”

A traffic signal study commissioned by the municipality in June showed that traffic light systems at nine Route 22 intersections stretching from Trafford Road to Triangle Lane weren't properly grounded when installed. The electrical schematic problem attributed to the lights falling out of sync, according to the study.

Earlier this month, Morrison met with PennDOT officials to discuss the problem. While the state hasn't offered to help pay to repair the problem – traffic engineers estimate it would cost more than $24,000 to fix – PennDOT officials agree the grounding should have been done under their contract.

Since 2011, the municipality has spent about $42,000 on the lights, Morrison said. That doesn't include the timing study planned for this year, which officials hope to pay for using a grant.

Councilman Jeff Kepler, who first suggested investigating the timing issues last summer, said he was worried that the timing study would be wasted money if officials decide to replace the cameras with newer technology in the future. Morrison said the timing study still will be relevant if that happens.

During the coming months, the municipality and the state will look for strategies to control the intersections better. Since the mid-2000s, lights on that stretch of Route 22 have been controlled by traffic cameras and timers. However, some of the timers are off by as much as 27 minutes – meaning one could behave as if it were 9:30 a.m. and rush hour, while another would behave as if rush hour were over. PennDOT officials suggested using radar, rather than the cameras that are often misfired by oversized tractor trailers. Morrison said he isn't sure that's the right move.

“In 2003, cameras were the cat's meow,” Morrison said. “In 2013, it's radar. Are we buying into technology we're not going to like?”

Kepler said the current system isn't working.

“Today, we don't like the cat,” he said.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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