PennDOT: No-turn-on-red signs won’t be removed

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Tuesday, Punxsutawney Borough Council’s Public Safety Committee discussed a response to its letter from the PennDOT District 10 traffic engineer regarding the “no-turn-on-red” signs installed as part of the recent traffic signal project.

Borough Manager Ben White explained that council directed him to write to PennDOT District 10 about the signs, and the borough received a response from District 10 Traffic Engineer David Tomaswick.

Tomaswick wrote that during the design phase of the traffic signal project, a study was completed at each intersection regarding site distance, and that any approach that did not meet the requirements was designed with the no-turn signs included. Thus, the no-turn signs are warranted and will not be taken down.

Committee member Eric Story said he thought the state instituted turn-right-on-red with caution during the gas crisis in order to save gas, and thus, is going against its own laws.

Also, committee member Toby Santik said he has seen traffic backed up to Joe’s Drive-In from West Mahoning Street, and he didn’t believe the no-turn signs can be enforced anyway.

Council President Larry Chenoga asked if the no-turn signs could be enforced if council has not ordained them.

Police Chief Tom Fedigan said regardless of the sign — stop, no parking or no-turn — it must be properly ordained to be enforced.

Committee member Mike Porada asked if state law supersedes local ordinances, adding that he would err on the side of caution when discussing whether or not these signs must be ordained to be enforced.

Fedigan said council should discuss the situation with Solicitor Jay Lundy to see if the signs must be ordained in order to be enforced.

White said there are times when the cameras are not reading that cars are in the intersection.

“So, some of the lights are staying red and not changing when a vehicle approaches the camera,” he said. “I’d like to know what causes it to revert to a sequence system.”

Council member William Spencer said the camera at the Pine Street-North Findley Street intersection doesn’t always appear to see vehicles waiting on Pine Street.

PennDOT wants to schedule a meeting with the committee, borough officials and the manufacturer of the traffic light camera system to discuss some of the problems that have been encountered, he said.

In other business:

• Porada said he has received reports of more burned-out street lights. Fedigan said he would have night duty officers check for burned-out lights this week.

• Porada said the committee should discuss a request from the Punxsutawney Area School District to restrict parking up near Jenks Hill Elementary School during the re-construction of the Route 119 bridge in Elk Run.

The committee decided to table the request, since the bridge project won’t take place until next summer at the earliest.

• Porada said there are still some cables lying around from the May 27 wind storm.

“For the most part, the utility crews did a good job cleaning up the mess from the large tree that fell onto Route 36,” he said, but there are still some cables lying near that area.

At the Legal & Finance Committee meeting:

• White said council has scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. June 20 in council chambers in regard to rezoning the Prushnok property. Following the hearing, there will be a special council meeting to vote on the zoning request, he said.

Council had previously approved to move ahead with the public hearing.