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Officials consider new road near Branthoover Cut-Off in Murrysville

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

While they consider closing a portion of Branthoover Cut-Off, Murrysville officials also are thinking about creating a new road nearby.

Council is considering closing a portion of the road — from the entrance to Leone's Pet Supply to Old William Penn Highway — and building a new connection between the jug-handle portions of the road to Old William Penn Highway. The jug handle would remain open, Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said.

About 900 cars travelled on the road during a two-day study, Council President Joan Kearns said.

“That's not an insignificant amount of cars using that access,” Kearns said. “We need to make sure we do the right thing.”

The potential road closure comes after a Churchill couple sued the municipality after a 2009 traffic accident. Council considered closing the road in 2005 but opted to keep it open because there was no significant accident history, Morrison said.

Officials have considered posting signs restricting left turns onto the road but worry that drivers might be confused because of nearby Andrews Lane.

“Obviously, we don't like this intersection,” municipal engineer Joe Dietrick said. “The geometry of Branthoover along with Andrews is very difficult. Any signage is going to cause confusion.”

Instead, officials think realigning the road to require a 90-degree turn on or off of Old William Penn might be a better answer — even if it is substantially more expensive.

Closing a portion of the road would cost about $4,000, Morrison said. However, building the new connection could cost as much as $100,000 because of permit costs and acquiring property rights.

Council is slated to vote to close the road May 1. If approved, movable barricades would be put in place at the sharp turn onto Old William Penn and near the back entrance to Leone's Animal Supply store, Dietrick said. Eventually, permanent barriers would be put in place, he said.

However, if the road is closed this spring or summer, the new road wouldn't be built immediately. Solicitor George Kotjarapoglus said council has a “reasonable time period” to decide what to do, up to a “couple of years, so long as you are pursuing something.”

The state Department of Transportation will be consulted for any changes, Dietrick said, as the department owns the jug-handle portion of the road.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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