Blairsville Borough considers parking, traffic changes
By Jeff Himler
Published: Friday, June 21, 2013, 1:36 p.m.
Blairsville Borough officials are considering changes to traffic patterns and parking that are meant to improve safety near the town's post office on South Walnut Street, just south of Market Street. Parking fines also would increase.
At its Tuesday meeting, borough council voted to advertise a proposed ordinance that would eliminate on-street parking spaces in front of the post office and would prohibit left turns for motorists exiting adjacent Iron Alley from either direction on to South Walnut (Route 217).
After some debate, it was decided that motorists driving along the alley still should be permitted to cross both lanes of Walnut to continue along the alley. Borough manager Tim Evans had expressed concern about the safety of such cross-traffic, but councilman Jeff Marshall suggested it's needed for trucks making rear deliveries to businesses fronting Market. Evans conceded that, if such large trucks could only turn right on to Walnut, they would use both lanes to do so anyway.
Mayor Joe Caugherty said Blairsville's postmaster has indicated support for eliminating parking in front of the post office.
“People stop there at the post office and just whale their doors open (into oncoming traffic),” Evans said. Parking still will be allowed nearby in front of the First United Methodist Church, he indicated.
The ordinance also would increase fines for overparking at metered spaces from $2 to $5. If not paid promptly, the fine would increase to $10. Evans pointed out a drop box at the borough building allows for fines to be paid over weekends. The rental fee for parking in 15 non-metered spots behind the Serell building would be set at $25 per month.
Council agreed to purchase a Scag Turf Tiger 72-inch, zero-turn mower from New Alexandria Tractor Supply at a price of $10,908. Evans said the borough needs another mower as the amount of grass it trims has increased. He said $8,500 the borough received in compensation for tearing down a dilapidated house would be applied toward the cost.
Council authorized the borough recreation board to seek bank proposals for a 60-month, $35,000 loan to complete tennis court improvements, to fix a treadmill and to purchase other fitness machines, weight equipment and playground apparatus for the community center. Evans noted the board has only three installments left to pay off the remainder of $60,000 it borrowed in 2005 to remodel the community center.
Caugherty cast a tie-breaking vote, joining council members John Bertolino and Ron Evanko to approve a subdivision combining three Indiana Avenue parcels owned by Serko LLC into one parcel. Marshall and Jim Mollo were opposed while Carrie Smith and Mary Ugoletti were absent.
According to Evans, the 12th Congressional Regional Equipment Company sold the property to Serko, which is now leasing it back to the organization that offers surplus government equipment to member municipalities.
Council accepted the resignation of part-time police officer Anthony Jellison, who has been promoted to a full-time role with Homer City's police department. Blairsville is seeking applicants to fill the vacancy.
Evans reported the borough is upgrading several Market Street traffic signals with new red and yellow LED lights at a cost of about $3,000. Evans said the brighter lights have been installed in the signal at Stewart Street while signals at Morrow and Spring streets also are to be improved.
The borough is taking steps to increase the visibility of the signals, which are placed at the sides of the street and have been ignored by some motorists as they focus on a newer signal that is suspended above the center of the street at the Walnut Street intersection.
Evans said PennDOT still plans to repave Market and Walnut streets. But the project won't proceed until the state department has finished work on the nearby Conemaugh River bridge, which has restricted traffic to one lane on Route 217 just south of town.
“It might be August or September until it gets done,” he said of the paving.
He said improvement of the East Market Street railroad crossing also is still planned and likely would be accomplished with a weekend closure of the crossing.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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