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Latrobe studies traffic issues surrounding new elementary school | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Latrobe studies traffic issues surrounding new elementary school

Jeff Himler
| Wednesday, March 13, 2019 1:30 a.m
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Students make their way into the building, during the first day of school at the recently completed Latrobe Elementary School in Latrobe, on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018.

A three-way stop at Lincoln Avenue and Cherry Street is among options Latrobe officials are considering as they work with the local school district to improve pedestrian safety and address parking concerns around Latrobe Elementary School.

The city has posted signs to alert motorists they are approaching the school, which opened to students in early December. Before taking additional steps, the city is awaiting results of a traffic study being conducted by consultant Gibson-Thomas Engineering.

Many children and parents cross Lincoln as they walk to or from the new elementary school — which is bordered by Lincoln, Cherry and Ligonier and Cedar streets.

“There is a stop sign at James Street, and there isn’t another one until Cedar Street,” Mayor Rosie Wolford said of the stretch of Lincoln near the school. Between those two intersections, “it’s possible that we could put in a stop sign at Cherry to slow traffic down,” she said.

The study on Lincoln is expected to take about a week to complete, according to district Superintendent Judith Swigart. Warm weather is required before a proposed crosswalk could be applied to the pavement there, she said.

Meanwhile, she said, a school police officer acts as a crossing guard for children making their way across Lincoln.

“She does an excellent job,” Swigart said of the officer. “We believe, with her doing such a good job, the students are safe.”

“A stop sign will help to make that even safer,” added Michael Porembka, the district’s director of teaching and learning.

City and school officials also have discussed ways to address parking issues that occur when parents drive their children to work in the morning and arrive to pick them up in the afternoon.

Latrobe police Chief John Sleasman has suggested placing a partial restriction on parking along Cherry, near Ligonier, during the weekday periods of heavy traffic.

With parking allowed on both sides of Cherry, Porembka said, “We have a free flow of cars driving up the middle between those cars, which is a bit unsafe.” As a remedy, he said, district staff has suggested a “no stopping, no standing, no idling” zone along the south curb of Cherry, next to the school, during drop-off and pick-up times.

The district has designated two parent drop-off lanes in the school parking lot, that parents enter from Cedar Street. But, Porembka noted, “some people try to avoid that because it’s a little bit longer of a wait.”

During the morning drop-off period, parents who arrive early may be backed up onto both Cedar and Lincoln, pulled to the side of the street as they wait for the building’s doors to open.

Wolford, who recently observed the student arrival process, suggested, “if people would not come so early and sit there, we could have a better flow of traffic.”

Once students begin entering or leaving the school, the loading and unloading procedures are completed fairly quickly, Porembka said. In the afternoon, he said, “They get started at about 3:50 (p.m.), and on a bad day they’re done at 4:02.”

Many parents are wondering why a traffic study wasn’t completed before the school opened.

“When you’re opening a new school, it’s hard to predict with any certainty how many people want to cross (Lincoln) at Cherry,” Porembka said. Based on feedback from parents, he said, district officials thought “a lot of people would cross at James and Lincoln, and there are very few that cross at James.

“We’ve been in the school for three months. It’s a learning process.”

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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