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Plan for intersection upgrade being pieced together

| Monday, June 16, 2003

Piece by piece, Penn Hills officials are bringing together the components that will make a well-traveled section of Allegheny River Boulevard safer for left turns.

Council for more than a year has discussed upgrading the traffic light and intersection at Sandy Creek Road, where motorists traveling from Verona can encounter great difficulty turning off Allegheny River Boulevard.

"I drive that way a great deal and every time I go to make that left turn, it's like trying to avoid the balls on a giant pool table," said Mayor William DeSantis.

Last year, word came down from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that the municipality would be expected to foot the bill for a new traffic signal equipped with a left-turn arrow, at a projected cost of $60,000 to $80,000.

Penn Hills received an initial $15,000 state grant in April for the new signal through the office of state Sen. Jay Costa, a Forest Hills Democrat, with another $15,000 grant promised through PennDOT for the project.

Now Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton has announced that PennDOT has also pledged some of the traffic light equipment that is being replaced on the Robinson Boulevard project in Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg.

"We've already been notified that the poles from that project are ours if we want them," Burton said.

Burton has also learned of another potential cost-cutting component for the project that could eliminate the need for a light with a left-turn arrow.

"There could be a way to delay the green light for the traffic coming up Allegheny River Boulevard from Pittsburgh," Burton said. "That would allow some time for drivers to make the left turn onto Sandy Creek Road" before the oncoming traffic gets the green light.

Municipal Manager John Brennan has also recommended clearer marking at the intersection to allow for two lanes to be formed: one for traffic going straight and the other a left-turn lane.

"At the current intersection, it's just a little wider, but there's no real delineation for a separate left-turn lane," Brennan said.

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