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Punxsy to receive new traffic signals through PennDOT

December 2, 2010

As part of PennDOT’s traffic signal upgrade in downtown Punxsutawney, new crosswalk signals will be installed at all of the intersections. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — This may not be on your Christmas list, but Punxsutawney is going to receive new traffic signals courtesy of PennDOT District 10 throughout the downtown area.

Punxsutawney Borough Manager Ben White said that the traffic signal upgrade is a PennDOT project.

“Each of the intersections along Mahoning Street — including Hampton Avenue, Jefferson, Findley and Gilpin streets — will receive new signals, signal posts and mast arms,” White said, adding that Hampton is currently the only intersection that has mast arms that support the traffic signals.

“The traffic signals in the other intersections are currently supported by wires,” White said. “All of the intersections — including Hampton — will have brand new mast arms installed as part of the project.”

White pointed out that the intersections will be video monitored to detect if there is a considerable amount of traffic on the side streets.

“There’s two choices for vehicle detection: Sensors underneath the pavement or video detection,” White explained, adding that currently, all of the traffic signals in downtown Punxsy are timed.

“There are sensors underneath the road at the intersection with Findley Street, but they’re no longer in use,” he said. “There will also be new pedestrian signals installed at all of the intersections downtown and a new crosswalk installed across Hampton, from the Mahoning Towers to the east end bridge.”

White added that all of the crosswalks will be activated by a push button that pedestrians can use at their own convenience. He also said that discussions are taking place regarding sounds and their association with the signals.

Susan Glessner, council president, pointed out that the public should be aware that this is a PennDOT project.

“Normally, if a community wants the traffic signals updated, it has to go after enhancement money or do it with its own funds,” Glessner explained. “The borough is very fortunate that PennDOT is doing this project with its own funding stream.”

White noted that all of the new signals will have LED lights.

“Our current lights also have LED lights in them,” White pointed out. “We replaced all of the incandescent bulbs with LEDs in all of our traffic signals within the past year, which increased the brightness.”

White added that as part of the project, PennDOT will also install new handicapped accessible curb ramps. The ADA Standards require that curb ramps include features called “detectable warnings,” which consist of a series of small domes that contrast in color with the surrounding sidewalk or street. They are intended to function much like stop signs for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. The warnings, which are intended to be felt with pedestrians’ feet, alert blind individuals and those with low vision that he or she is about to enter a street.

Glessner also said that PennDOT officials told council that it could consider having decorative poles for the mast arms.

“We rejected it because the borough would have to pay the difference in the cost from the regular poles to the decorative poles, which is $35,000 per intersection,” Glessner explained. “I think the change itself will make quite a difference and may eliminate some existing light standards so the light could be attached to the new traffic signal poles.

“We have our choice between plain or having them painted,” Glessner added. “The maintenance is the borough’s responsibility. That’s just a small price to pay to receive this improvement.”

White noted the project should begin in late spring and take about three months to complete. He added that PennDOT has scheduled a public meeting for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers, prior to the committee meetings, regarding the new traffic signals.

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