Upgrades coming to Whitehall intersection

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The sometimes confusing lines, signs and arrows directing traffic from Streets Run Road onto Brownsville Road will be repainted and replaced to help clarify the intersection for drivers struggling to know exactly in which lane they belong, Whitehall leaders said this week.

The Allegheny County Department of Public Works, which maintains the intersection, responded to a request from Whitehall leaders to make improvements at the intersection, Mayor James Nowalk said.

Although county officials said they will not consider a redesign of the intersection, as requested, they will repaint directional arrows and reinstall damaged signs at the intersection in the next several weeks, they said in a letter to the Whitehall mayor.

“Because of your letter, this intersection is going to become more safe,” Nowalk last week said to Whitehall resident Raymond Meenan, who prompted the discussion by sending the mayor a letter asking that improvements be made at the intersection.

“I jog there all the time, and I see it,” said Meenan, who attended the meeting to protest local officials and ask for a $20,000 check from the borough to be reimbursed for legal fees he has incurred over the years in actions against Whitehall.

The resident's letter prompted Nowalk to look at issues at the intersection, the mayor said. He realized there was a problem.

“I have, myself, come close to going in the wrong lane, at times,” Nowalk said.

Directional signs at the intersection is “inadequate” and does not clearly guide drivers trying to make a left turn, he said. Because of the design, many times drivers end up in the wrong lane, which, the mayor said in his letter, he fears could lead to a head-on collision.

Large trucks, also, cannot properly make the turn and often go over the center island, he said in the letter. Since 1995, the Whitehall Police Department has notified Allegheny County 22 times that directional signs at the intersection were struck, damaged, knocked down or missing.

Nowalk sought a redesign of the intersection, but county officials said a realignment took place in 1984 as part of a state-funded bridge-replacement project. County funds, then, would have to support a redesign, and the bridge — which is not weight restricted — only needs minimal repairs to have a fair to good rating, the response states.

County public works officials will repaint the intersection in the next 30 days, Nowalk said.

The mayor said this is a good example of how local government should work — when residents see a problem, they contact their local representative, and action is taken — and reinforces the need for small community governments.

“There's personal contact with local officials,” Nowalk said. “People in the City of Pittsburgh cannot pick up their phone and call Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.”

Residents can and often do prompt changes in local towns, Nowalk said.

“Sometimes you need a little impetus,” he said.

Residents can contact officials by phone, letter or email to let them know about changes they want to see, the mayor said.

“People can affect what happens,” Nowalk said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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