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Murrysville council votes to close Branthoover cutoff

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 8:39 p.m.

Motorists will need to find alternate routes to navigate a portion of Branthoover Cut-Off connecting Route 22 and Old William Penn Highway after Murrysville Council agreed last week to close the road, effective yesterday.

Council will consider construction of a new road to connect the jughandle portion of the road to Old William Penn Highway.

“We are going to continue to explore alternate ways to connect to Old 22,” council President Joan Kearns said. “We've had so many different scenarios, we know people will be confused by it.”

About 900 vehicles traveled the small section of Branthoover Cut-off during a two-day period, according to a municipal count.

Although there have been several discussions to close the section of Branthoover Cut-off, the latest came after a Churchill couple filed a lawsuit following a serious crash there.

The closure, behind Leone's Animal Supply, will cost about $2,000.

Officials will set up orange-and-white-striped barricades to block the roadway. Flashing lights and signs will alert drivers that the road is closed, chief administrator Jim Morrison said.

George Leone, owner of the animal supply store, asked council to display signage alerting customers that his business is still open.

His business has been in that location since 1975, he said.

Leone's attorney, Sam Kamin, said that he and his client are worried about drivers not knowing how to access the store. They also have safety concerns.

“People are going to be confused,” Kamin said. “You're cutting off the road before we've done our studies. This sequencing sort of is like putting the cart before the horse.”

Officials agreed to place signage directing customers to the front of the building. Leone said he hopes officials will expedite their decision building a new connection between Route 22 and Old William Penn Highway.

Constructing a new road could cost up to $100,000, but officials caution that is a “very preliminary estimate.”

The jughandle will remain open, Morrison said.

Documents provided by the municipality indicate that a proposal to close the road was rejected in 2005 because there was no significant accident history.

In 2011, Paul and Joanne Kimelman of Churchill filed a lawsuit after they were injured when their vehicle was struck by a car in 2009 as they were turning from Branthoover Cutoff onto Old William Penn Highway, according to the lawsuit.

The Kimelmans support the proposal to close the road, said their attorney Elliott Schuchardt.

The lawsuit seeks at least $25,000 in damages.

Amanda Dolasinski and Daveen Rae Kurutz are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Dolasinski can be reached at adolasinski@tribweb.com or 724-836-6220. Kurutz can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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