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19 mph may be 'much lower than 20'

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 5:20 a.m.

While riding through a housing plan in the North Hills of Allegheny County, North Huntingdon police Sgt. Duane Kucera spotted an unusual street sign.

"The speed limit said '13 miles per hour.' I kept thinking about it, and thought that, if I noticed it, something like that may work to slow down drivers in the township," he said. "People get so accustomed to seeing 'Watch Children' signs, they don't always pay attention to them."

Kucera thought 19 mph might be a good choice.

"Not 15, because that's the speed limit in the school zones. Not 20. Maybe 19 would work and seem much lower than 20," he said.

Biddle Avenue, just off Route 993 in the village of Westmoreland City, received the first 19-mph sign last week.

"Most of the housing plans have 20-mph signs, and this is a single road that leads to a park," Kucera said.

A second 19-mph sign is planned for Entry Road near the under-construction Hahntown Elementary School, set to open in fall 2007.

Lt. Michael Daugherty said motorists won't see a slew of 19-mph signs around the township.

"It's something a little different. But if we start putting them up everywhere, people will get used to seeing them and it will lose its effect," he said.

North Huntingdon Commissioner Tim Hondal agreed.

"I believe the sign does raise awareness," he said. "If we start using them everywhere, drivers will get used to it. We don't want to lose that awareness."

Commissioners approved the placement of the first 19-mph sign in July, but the special sign had to be ordered.

"Nineteen-mile-per-hour signs are not in stock, so it took a little longer," said Public Works Director Rich Albert.

Typically, the township can get a speed limit sign overnight from their distributor, U.S. Municipal Supply, in Huntingdon, Huntingdon County.

"This one took a couple of weeks," Albert said. "There's no added cost for the special order."

Albert said the public works department also favors adding color to speed-limit signs to draw motorists' attention.

"We put a green 20 mile-per-hour sign up on Mockingbird Drive near the (intermediate and middle) schools to slow traffic," he said.

Biddle Avenue resident Anna Matovich, who has lived in the village 49 years, said she has mixed feelings about the 19-mph signs.

"I'm pleased with it and I don't have a problem with it. But it would be good if the police were here to enforce it. Most of the speeders aren't residents," she said. "People in Biddle know where the kids play.

"I have three grandchildren here and one who loves to run over to my house on Biddle to play, so it can be a good thing," Matovich said. "It's a small thing that may help people stop and think that when you see a playground, you need to slow up."

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