PennDOT has approved more turning restrictions at a busy Oakmont intersection that the borough’s mayor said was a problem before the popular Oakmont Bakery opened a new location there and compounded traffic headaches.
Westbound motorists on Hulton Road who are headed toward Hulton Bridge will be prohibited from turning left onto Third Street from 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. on weekdays as soon as PennDOT installs the signs at the intersection.
Those times coincide with the already existing restrictions that allow northbound motorists on Third Street and eastbound motorists on Hulton Road to make right turns only.
“We have identified this as a problem intersection since long before the new location of the Oakmont Bakery opened,” said Oakmont Mayor Christopher Whaley.
“The increased traffic due to the Oakmont Bakery has provided enough evidence to warrant these additional restrictions,” Whaley said. “This is the first step toward improving safety in this corridor and we will continue to explore every avenue pertaining to safety, until we are confident we have obtained the best possible scenario the circumstances allow.”
Motorists have ignored the right-turn-only restrictions for some time. Traffic problems were exacerbated with the Feb. 5 opening of the new Oakmont Bakery location at the intersection, even though the business has more than 100 parking spaces and two lots.
Borough officials submitted a letter to PennDOT the day after the new Oakmont Bakery opened requesting the no-left-turn restriction. The state sent traffic engineers to the area and conducted a traffic study in response.
“The results of the study showed that the restriction was warranted and approved,” PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said Monday night. “We agreed to install the ‘no left turn’ signs as soon as they were received and our operations permitted.”
Cowan did not know when the new signs would be installed.
“It’s a good thing,” police Chief Michael Ford said of the new restrictions. “PennDOT was very cooperative and acted quickly.”
Ford met with bakery owner Marc Serrao shortly after the Feb. 5 opening to address parking and traffic concerns.
“He gave me some great suggestions, and we’re implementing all of them,” Serrao said last month. “We will continue to work at ensuring safety for the community and an enjoyable experience for our guests.”
Ford said problems have decreased at the intersection and it appears motorists may have gotten the message.
“It’s getting better. People are getting used to the area and where to park,” he said.
One Third Street traffic issue remains under consideration.
As of Monday, an online petition led by Riverview High School junior Molly Collins to designate about 30 parking spaces at Riverside Park next to the high school and across from the bakery’s secondary lot has received 679 signatures out of its goal of 750.
Collins talked with Oakmont Council about the possible student parking designation at a meeting last month.
“It’s public property, but the students have been unofficially parking there for 30 years since Riverview High School opened,” Collins, 17, said.
Council members at this month’s workshop meeting said the matter is being considered, but they do not plan to take action on it at the March 18 voting session.