commissioner’s column: John Bendel
This evening, I dropped off my daughter at Foster School for volleyball. Before we left our driveway on Arden Road (Lincoln School area), I mentally went through my route options then I set out on the trip across town. My guess is that most of us go through a similar exercise as we prepare to travel, and, if you are like me, my routes, like the one to volleyball, sometimes includes a few shortcuts through our local streets. While these short cuts are a viable option to get to a destination, these trips are one of the factors that contribute to the traffic issues in our neighborhoods.
Of course, traffic issues are not new in Mt. Lebanon. We simply have too many vehicles moving through our community on a roadway network that isn’t designed to handle the volume of traffic. In certain sections of Mt. Lebanon, traffic issues are a nuisance and can negatively impact our quality of life. So, the question is, what can be done to address this persistent and complex issue? Mitigating our traffic issues takes a multi-faceted approach. This issue is critically important to me and I’m happy to report that the municipality is taking the following actions:
The municipality’s Traffic Board has been on the front line dealing with traffic circulation and safety issues for a number of years. This group of volunteers is focused on making our streets safer. In 2012, the Traffic Board developed and the Commission approved a new traffic management program that provides a transparent and clear process for traffic calming measures, which are intended to slow down or reduce car volume and/or speed. This new program, featured in the January/February issue of mtl magazine, provides an opportunity for every street in the municipality to be considered for calming measures.
The Commission approved funding last year to address the priority calming projects. With the 2013 budget we allocated funds to enhance our traffic signs at locations with relatively high crash incidents or areas of concern.
The municipality is supporting state legislation that will allow local police departments to use radar or laser speed-timing devices, commonly known as LIDAR. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that prohibits the use of radar and LIDAR by local police departments, which severely limits our enforcement capabilities to address speeding. With access to radar and LIDAR, our police department could be much more effective in enforcing our traffic laws.
In 2013, a $1.4 million project on Cochran and Beverly roads will coordinate 10 signals and make pedestrian and Americans with Disabilities Act improvements. The primary goal of a project like this one is to improve traffic flow on arterial roads, encouraging drivers to stay on the main roads instead of our local streets.
The municipality has incorporated a Road Safety Audit as part of its Comprehensive Plan, which will be approved in 2013. The audit identified pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements as part of a strategy to maintain Mt. Lebanon’s place as a walking and biking community.
The Comprehensive Plan also recognizes the need to cooperate with the Southwest Planning Commission, Allegheny County, PennDOT and the Port Authority to enhance our regional transportation network and to encourage use of public transit.
As you can see, we are making progress but there still is a great deal of work to do; this is a long-term process. If you’d like more information on traffic issues, visit www.mtlebanon.org or consider attending one of our Traffic Board’s meetings on the first Wednesday of every month.