PennDOT officials approved a turning restriction designed to improve safety and traffic flow at Riverview High School and the new Oakmont Bakery.
Left turns will be prohibited from Hulton Road onto Third Street between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., as soon as the state installs the signs.
Those times coincide with the already posted right-turn-only from Third Street onto Hulton Road and from Hulton Road onto Third Street signs.
Borough police plan to set up a barrier on Third Street at the Hulton Road intersection to help prevent motorists from affecting student arrival and dismissal at the nearby high school once the new signs are in place. It was unclear when they would be posted.
Motorists have ignored the right-turn-only restrictions for some time. The problem was exacerbated early last month with the opening of the new Oakmont Bakery location at that intersection, even though the business has more than 100 parking spaces and two lots.
Mayor Christopher Whaley made the announcement of PennDOT’s decision at Monday night’s council workshop meeting.
“We have identified this as a problem intersection since long before the new location of the Oakmont Bakery opened,” Whaley said. “The increased traffic due to the Oakmont Bakery has provided enough evidence to warrant these additional restrictions … 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.”
“It’s a good thing,” police Chief Michael Ford said. “PennDOT was very cooperative and acted quickly.”
The bakery opened at the Third Street intersection on Feb. 5.
Borough officials submitted a letter to PennDOT the following day requesting the no-left-turn restriction. The state sent traffic engineers to the area and did 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.”
Police Chief Michael Ford met with bakery owner Marc Serrao shortly after opening day 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 March 4, 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 750 goal.
Collins talked with council about the possible student parking designation Feb. 18.
“It’s public property, but the students have been unofficially parking there for 30 years since Riverview High School opened,” said Collins, 17.
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.