Zelienopleponders traffic flow changes

Residents claim speed is problem

October 9, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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Tom Thompson, Zelienople engineer, discusses a traffic study during a special meeting Sept. 30 in the borough.

ZELIENOPLE — A recently completed traffic study that focused on heavily traveled streets in the borough resulted in recommendations being made last week by officials, including the possible change of traffic flow.

However, more than 20 residents at the special meeting said it's speed, not flow, that is the biggest concern in those areas.

In April, council approved a study to determine the possibility of making Jefferson Street one-way from Beaver Street to Grandview Avenue, as well as making Green Lane one-way from Grand Avenue to Beaver Street. They cited narrow roads and sharp turning radii as the reason for the study, as well as new businesses moving in near those areas.

On Sept. 30, Tom Thompson, the borough's engineer, said officials first looked at traffic flow data provided by PennDOT, which showed a large number of vehicles traveling up New Castle Street to Route 19 and then heading south. He said about 13,000 cars per day come from Ellwood City, which increased to 14,000 on Main Street and nearly 16,000 further south.

The borough conducted its own survey over a two-day period using the police department's traffic counters, which confirmed the flow is largest heading north. The borough study also found 13 reportable accidents along the stretch of road in the past five years.

Thompson said the data indicate New Castle Street is the primary corridor carrying those vehicles, with motorists using Jefferson Street and Green Lane to bypass backlogs in traffic.

Because of that, Thompson said the recommendation was to make Jefferson Street one-way north from New Castle Street to Beaver Street only.

After completing the study, borough officials set last week's meeting with residents to gather additional feedback and determine any potential action.

Residents shared concerns with the traffic traveling those roads, with many calling that traffic “dangerous” and a “hazard” to the community.

However, resident Mike Keefer said no matter what way traffic flows, the presented conceptual plan did not address speed, which he said was the biggest concern.

Many others in attendance agreed.

Some residents suggested speed bumps be put in place to deter the number of cars and slow down those that continue to travel the road. Others suggested installing two-way or four-way stops to slow traffic, while others asked for the speed limit to be lowered.

Don Pepe, borough manager, said the use of such measures, particularly speed bumps, raised legal issues and likely would not be possible. He said other traffic control devices may be expensive and may not be readily available.

However, he said Monday's meeting was, “exactly what we wanted” in gathering more information. He said the solution to the issue is the “right mix” of speed control, timing and signage.

Pepe said officials will continue to work on the matter, and will continue to accept public feedback.

“It's obvious that there's a problem here, and it's obvious that we need to fix it somehow, and that's what we're trying to do,” he said.

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J.W.  Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr. is the bureau chief of the Cranberry Eagle. Johnson is a native of Bellaire, Ohio, and graduated from Bellaire High School in 2004. He is a 2009 graduate of Ohio University in Athens with a bachelor of specialized studies degree in English and journalism. While there, he served as a reporter and editor at The Post, the university’s student-run, independent newspaper. In 2009, he was hired as a reporter for The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register in Wheeling, W.Va. Over the course of eight years, he also served as Marshall County bureau chief, city editor and news editor. He also won two first place West Virginia Press Association Awards for his reporting and design work. He and his wife, Maureen, live in Carnegie.