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Murrysville to vote soon on closing Branthoover Cutoff

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
This overview shows the area of the cut-off in Murrysville that would be closed.

Murrysville Council is expected to vote next month on whether to close the Branthoover Cutoff, according to officials.

Council began talks to close the road, which connects Old William Penn Highway and Route 22, after a couple injured in a car crash there sued the municipality.

This will be the second time council has considered the closure.

If the closure behind Leone's Animal Supply is approved, orange- and white-striped barricades will block the roadway. Flashing lights and signs will alert drivers that the road is closed, chief administrator Jim Morrison said.

Closing it “will give us an opportunity to see how traffic reacts,” he said. “How are they going to get to their destination without using Branthoover?”

A study likely would be done to determine which roads — such as Andrews or Tarr Hollow — will be used more if the closure is approved, Morrison said.

About 900 vehicles used the Branthoover Cutoff in a two-day period, according to a municipal count.

“I think that we really need to make sure that we have explored all possibilities before ever abandoning the road,” council President Joan Kearns said.

Documents provided by the municipality indicate that a proposal to close the road was rejected in 2005 because “there was not any 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, or at least make it safer, said their attorney, Elliott Schuchardt.

“I've never seen an intersection like this anywhere else,” he said. “We believe it's an old farm intersection. It looks like it was turned into a modern road and isn't safe, given modern vehicles.”

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

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com.

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