It certainly would be no mere play on words to say one particular matter in East Franklin Township hits close to home for Larry Richardson.
An ongoing sense of urgency expressed by many to make safer the State Route 422/Glade Run Road intersection in the municipality is understood and appreciated more than most by people such as Richardson, the municipality’s zoning officer, who resides not far from the junction that counts at least one traffic-related fatality in recent years.
“I use it at least once or twice a day,” said Richardson during Thursday’s monthly public meeting of East Franklin Township’s board of supervisors.
It was with that in mind that Richardson, acting in place of township Supervisor David Stewart at the meeting until he arrived, delivered the latest update on efforts largely spearheaded by 16-year-old Gracie Elosser to pursue safety enhancements at the intersection.
Since a deadly accident on July 3, 2021, at the site that led to the death of Kenneth Robert Shaffer, 60, who was killed in a motorcycle accident after hitting a truck there, Elosser has been routinely attending township meetings and offering her opinion that the intersection is a danger to drivers.
With Elosser once again present at the board’s most recent meeting proceeding, Richardson detailed plans by Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT) District 10 to move forward with related efforts to make passing through the junction less of a risk for motorists.
“At the present time, there is a project out to correct the pavement and do painting on the pavement (at the intersection),” he said.
The state agency intends to apply painted traffic warnings known as optical speed bars, which would be designed to more efficiently catch the eyes of motorists in an effort to make them aware of the need to curtail their speed as they approach the intersection, he said.
“The lines (would) start about 1,000 feet out, go the whole way across the highway and they increase in volume as you get near the intersection,” Richardson said. “So the closer you get to the intersection, the faster you look like you’re going, and hopefully, they say, that will slow people down.”
PennDOT also intends to place a device known as a speed minder, which would rest on a portable trailer near the intersection, for every four to six weeks starting in April, he said.
“They’re going to put it there for four to five days at a time, either Monday through Friday or Friday through Monday,” Richardson said. “They hope to do that starting in April for five to six months, which would take them in to September. So it’s during the spring and summer.”
In addition, a plan is in play to rectify the positioning of stop signs at the intersection.
“There are two stop signs, and they are either coming from the Fox Hollow side or the Glade Run side on the north side, one you come up on it straight ahead, and one’s to the right,” Richardson said.
PennDOT also told Richardson a work order is in the works to better position stop signs directing traffic at the site.
“Hopefully that’ll all start soon,” he said.
Referencing a road safety audit conducted on the intersection by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), Richardson said one of the options PennDOT also would be to allow traffic flow at the site only to motorists turning right.
“They’d put a concrete barrier down the medial strip so you can’t go straight across and you can’t make a left-hand turn,” he said.
PennDOT has also requested that Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) trooper from Troop D, Kittanning, be assigned to sit at the site and evaluate speed via radar. Another option, according to Richardson, would be for PennDOT to install high-resistance pavement to help motorists quickly stopping their vehicles maintain control.
When given the chance to ask questions, Elosser questioned when all the aforementioned work would commence, to which the answers remained vague. “I was told today there are many, many more intersections in the state of Pennsylvania that are more dangerous than that one,” Richardson said.
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