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Residents oppose plan for restrictions on Parkway East on-ramps

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By Tom Fontaine and Tory N. Parrish
Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 9:24 p.m.
 

Residents in some neighborhoods off the Parkway East want PennDOT to put the brakes on a proposal to place traffic signals on several on-ramps and close others during rush hours to reduce congestion.

“It would restrict us from getting to the parkway, but put no restrictions on people who live farther east,” said Alina Keebler, president of the Regent Square Civic Association, which sent emails to about 300 of its members Friday soliciting questions and concerns to share with PennDOT.

A University of Pittsburgh study done in March 2011 recommended closing the ramp from South Braddock Avenue to the Parkway East inbound during the morning rush and the South Braddock ramp to the highway's outbound lanes in the evening.

“It's unfair. Why should we be penalized?” Keebler said.

The state has set aside $5 million for the proposed ramp-control project, which the Pitt study recommended as a way to improve traffic flow on the notoriously congested Parkway East. The money is earmarked for 2016.

But PennDOT officials insist they haven't decided whether to pursue the project. Rather, the Pitt study is prompting the agency to hire a consultant to do a more in-depth review of the entire Parkway East corridor and its surrounding communities. PennDOT has yet to hire a consultant, officials said.

“Certainly, we hear the residents loud and clear about access to the parkway,” said Dan Cessna, chief engineer for PennDOT's District 11, which includes Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.

“What I want to make clear is that no final decisions have been made with regard to any ramp meters (signals) being put in place or any ramp closures,” Cessna said, adding the consultant might discourage signals but recommend other traffic improvements.

Among the Pitt study's recommendations, ramps from southbound South Braddock Avenue and southbound Ardmore Boulevard to the Parkway East inbound would close during morning rush, while traffic signals would control access to ramps from northbound Ardmore Boulevard and westbound Greensburg Pike to the highway's inbound lanes. The signals would be timed to allow vehicles onto the highway every few seconds.

Tom Fontaine and Tory N. Parrish are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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