Resident voices concern over traffic lights

PUNXSUTAWNEY — A Punxsutawney resident recently shared his concerns with Punxsutawney Borough Council about PennDOT's new downtown traffic light system.

Joe Ferrara, of Church Street, expressed concern about cones set up in the middle of the sidewalk at every intersection, as well as two-inch conduit protruding about 18 inches above the sidewalk surface with wires.
Ferrara said that he was told by now-former council member Roger Steele that there would be control cabinets installed on the sidewalk.

"There's enough stuff on the sidewalk already between garbage cans, benches and other signage that are positioned around the perimeter," Ferrara said.

He also said he was unhappy with clutter the project has caused in front of a building he owns at the corner of East Mahoning and South Findley streets.

Ferrara said the sidewalk is already narrow enough due to an existing utility pole, and the conduit for the new traffic signals is in the middle of the passageway on the sidewalk on South Findley and another on the Mahoning Street sidewalk.

"It's just unconscionable to me that you could locate anything that is a hazard right in the travel way of the sidewalk," he said. "If I leave my tractor parked on my sidewalk, I'll hear from the borough about it, but these are permanent fixtures, and I believe the location of these control modules needs to be revised."

He added that he thinks the conduit could be a hazard while clearing snow.

"PennDOT needs to rethink this, and I was not informed that this type of apparatus would be in the middle of the sidewalk,” Ferrara said. “If I would have known that, I would not have signed the papers for the right-of-way.”

Steele said he and other council members suggested other locations for the control boxes.

"I've seen obstacle courses in the military that were less dangerous," Steele said, adding that wheelchair-bound persons could have trouble navigating these spaces.

Borough Manager Ben White said the former galvanized traffic signal poles would be removed once the new lights are in service, and that the sidewalk and traffic signal project must conform to ADA requirements and abide by federal regulations.

Council President Susan Glessner said council would contact PennDOT about these concerns.

In other business:
• Glessner presented an update on the clean-up of contaminated soil on Mahoning Shadow Trail following a fuel spill when a truck traveled off the bridge and onto the trail.

DEP is requiring the contractor to provide a timetable when the trail and wetlands will be restored.

Glessner said the contaminated soil will have to be removed, and the trail and wetlands must be restored to their prior condition before the accident.

• Police Chief Tom Fedigan said he hired Matt Conrad as a part-time officer.

• White said he received a return letter from PennDOT regarding council's request to change the speed limit on a section of Route 119 Indiana Hill to 35 mph.

In the letter, PennDOT said it would perform a traffic study in January regarding council's request, White said, and that council is responsible for the purchase and maintenance of any oversized signage required to change the speed limit.

• White said there are still some issues regarding the Torrence and North Findley Street intersections, including arrows on the overhead Pine and Torrence street signs.

During PennDOT's traffic study of the intersection, it was determined that the northbound left turning lane would not be needed and would be eradicated because it would interfere with the buses turning left off Torrence.

Steele said the traffic study was performed during the hours without school bus traffic.

Even without the turn lane, motorists would continue to use it for that, and traffic would still go around on the right side just as it does now, Steele said.

Also at last Monday's meeting, council:

• Approved a motion to change the scope of the borough's application for the DCED H2O grant to include the removal of inflow and infiltration into the sanitary lines along Horatio Street.

• Approved the Lindsey Fire Company's 2012 active list and fund-raisers.

• Approved the addition of Mark Powell to Central Fire Department active list.

• Approved Hoffman Diamond Products' request to borrow money from the borough's economic loan fund.

• Approved Guy Battestilli, Rick Young and Eric Doverspike to the Airport Authority.

• Approved Kathy Smith and Mary Steele to the Library Board.

• Approved Michele Lorenzo to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

• Approved Richard Alexander to the Police Civil Service Commission.

• Approved Joel Anderson to the Zoning Hearing Board.