Green light for new traffic signals

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Monday, Punxsutawney Borough Council said PennDOT’s new traffic signal project should commence in late spring or early summer.

Borough Manager Ben White said in an earlier interview that each of the intersections along Mahoning Street — including Hampton Avenue, Jefferson, Findley and Gilpin streets — will receive new signals, signal posts and mast arms. The Hampton intersection is the only one that currently has mast arms to support its traffic signals.

“The traffic signals at the other intersections are currently supported by wires,” White said, and that the intersections will be video-monitored to detect if there’s traffic on side streets.

Roger Steele, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said signal replacement is paid for with incentive grants from PennDOT.

“The upgrade is not being paid for with borough funds, and PennDOT asked for council’s input on the
project,” Steele said.

There are two choices for the poles to support the signals: Galvanized or colorized, and Steele said council has chosen semi-gloss black colorized poles, as ADA standards require that new curb ramps be installed and include features called “detectable warnings,” a series of small domes that contrast in color with the surrounding sidewalk or street. They are intended to function like stop signs for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision.

Council has also discussed mounting traffic light control boxes on the ground in the vicinity of the pole so they will not interfere with the sight of the drivers and window-shoppers driving through town.

With the redesign of the downtown traffic signals, PennDOT first requested removing as many as eight parking spaces downtown. But council suggested eliminating one handicap-accessible space on the north side of West Mahoning Street and moving it to the last space on South Gilpin Street, allowing better flow of traffic through downtown.

Steele said the last parking space on the north side in the 100 block of East Mahoning Street is extended into the crossing pad area for the handicapped ramp and will have to be removed.

“We’re basically losing two parking spaces in the downtown area, rather than the eight that PennDOT had suggested,” he said. “Council felt that was much easier, and more compatible to help us develop better parking and better customer relations for the people who shop in our downtown area.”

Steele also said PennDOT told council that it would not re-route traffic, and work in the sidewalk areas. The project should not interfere with the Old Home Week parade and the Groundhog Festival.

Council approved a motion removing the two parking spaces and moving the handicapped space to South Gilpin Street.