Council will seek input on Indiana Hill speed limit

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsutawney Borough Council’s Public Safety Committee discussed the possibility of changing the speed limit on the Route 119 bridge to make it easier for traffic to slow down when traveling down Indiana Hill.

Borough Manager Ben White said PennDOT would be able to clarify a few ideas proposed by council, which include requesting that PennDOT install larger signs or large orange diamonds on signs such as those used on the Indiana bypass on Route 119.

Mayor James Wehrle said he has received numerous complaints about drivers’ difficulty in attempting to slow down from 45 mph to 25 mph. Committee member Roger Steele added, however, that all drivers have to do is step on the brake, and the vehicle will slow down.

The committee agreed to send a letter to PennDOT to request raising the speed limit back to 35 mph and lowering it to 25 mph on West Mahoning Street.

Police Chief Tom Fedigan said in all of his years as chief, he has never received complaints about doing too much speed enforcement.

“Usually, it’s the other, that we aren’t doing enough speed enforcement,” he said.

When officers issue citations, it’s not for someone going 26 mph in a 25 mph zone.

“At the minimum, it is 10 mph or more over the speed limit before we issue a citation, so these people are going at least 10 mph over the speed limit,” Fedigan said. Most of the drivers who receive citations are going 10 to 12 mph over the speed limit.

Fedigan said there are drivers who speed up while traveling the Indiana Hill.

“Most of the excuses I’ve heard are, ‘I need to build up speed in order to get up the hill,’” he said.

In other business:

• The first day of school for Punxsutawney Area School District students went well throughout the borough, according to Fedigan.

He said he didn’t receive any complaints, but the school district did receive complaints about traffic congestion at Jenks Hill Elementary School.

At the intersection of Jenks Hill and Route 119, traffic was backed up as motorists attempted to exit onto the main road, Fedigan said. Until the Graffius Avenue bridge is reopened, motorists will have to put up with the congestion.

According to PennDOT’s Web site, the Graffius Avenue bridge should reopen Oct. 11, but at this time, is only 30 percent complete.

Fedigan said officers will make patrolling the Jenks Hill area a priority to see if people are parking illegally and adding to the congestion.

• Committee member Larry Chenoga suggested that council members write to PennDOT about the poor condition of Sycamore Street.

“That road is heavily traveled with all of the school traffic coming down from the high school and middle school, and it requires more work than just crack sealing,” he said.

White said PennDOT usually has a four-year plan for road resurfacing.

A resurfacing project is something that PennDOT would plan out in the spring, White said. At this time, Sycamore has not been suggested as a street that is to be resurfaced.

Chenoga said almost every drain on Sycamore has sunk and turned into a pot hole.

Further discussion about paving Sycamore will be discussed at Monday’s council meeting.

• Fedigan said he has not received any information about the grant for which he applied to replace the department’s aging dispatch center at the police station.

He said he hoped to have an update before the October council meeting.