community updates

BOWER HILL TRAFFIC PROJECTS Traffic on Bower Hill Road should flow more smoothly next year, thanks to grants from Allegheny County and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC). The grants are for two separate projects: The grant for the Allegheny County Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund is for $100,000 and requires a local match of $150,000—$40,000 of which is pledged from St. Clair Hospital—for a total of $250,000 to upgrade all of the traffic signal equipment at the intersection of Bower Hill, Greenhurst and Segar roads. The current equipment at the intersection is the oldest in Mt. Lebanon and no longer meets current standards for signal design or ADA pedestrian crossing requirements.

The SPC grant, $343,030 with a local match of $85,788, will fund a retiming study and new signal timing upgrades to seven traffic lights along the Bower Hill corridor from Carnegie Drive southwest to Sylvandell Drive. The upgrades include new GPS units in all seven locations; new LED signal heads at five locations; new countdown pedestrian signals at three locations; new pedestrian pushbutton signals at four locations; new signal controllers and controller cabinets; and optical pre-emption systems—overrides that allow for green lights for emergency vehicles—at four intersections that lack them now.

“These projects will really improve traffic flow and address safety issues,” says Public Works Director Tom Kelley, who was instrumental in securing the grants for Mt. Lebanon. In 2007, the Washington Road corridor underwent a similar upgrade. Kelley expects the work on Bower Hill to be finished sometime in 2013.

TRAFFIC ROUNDUP The Mt. Lebanon Traffic Board met with the Mt. Lebanon Commission to discuss a number of recommendations for traffic calming and safety. The recommendations included the installation of all-way stop signs at the intersection of Coolidge Avenue and Shady Drive West; replacing a yield sign with a stop sign at Inglewood Drive and Beadling Road; placing a stop sign at the intersection of Jonquil Place and Audubon Avenue, and painting a crosswalk on Jonquil; installing three-way stop signs at the corner of Chalmers Place and Parkview Drive; installing two speed humps on Newburn Drive, between Overlook Drive and Cochran Road; posting four “no parking” signs on Clemson Drive near Bower Hill Road; adding another handicapped parking space on Broadmoor Avenue near Howe School, and changing the signage on Lawncroft Avenue to reduce the “no parking” period to allow parents of children in day care to park until 8 a.m.

UPDATED MUNICIPAL WEBSITE Our fingers are crossed that Friday, April 13, will be a lucky day. That’s the scheduled launch of the new website and if everything goes according to plan, we’ll be unveiling a newly designed, more organized site for you. Since last summer, employees of the municipal information technology and public information offices have been working hand-in-hand with CivicPlus, which operates our site, to design a more attractive, more up-to-date, and most important, easier-to-navigate website. Although we’re happy that we were one of the first towns to have a web presence, our site has gotten cluttered over the years, like an attic that has a lot of good stuff in it…somewhere. So we spent the last year cleaning out the dust and getting rid of those first-grade cut and paste projects that no one has even looked at for years.

We now will have a more streamlined architecture, where you’ll find the things you’re looking for right on the home page: important announcements, meeting minutes and agendas and links to myLebo, our web services portal, in addition to municipal and community calendars and access to every department and office in the municipality. The site also has a special emergency mode; if something big and potentially hazardous is going on, you won’t be able to miss the information in the red that will take over the site. And if you like documents, they’re here too, whether you’re searching for the comprehensive plan, the subdivision and land development ordinance or the latest request for proposals.

That’s the easy part. We also had to figure out how to make the navigation work for people who kinda knew what they wanted but didn’t know where to look for it: hours contractors may work, whom to call for overnight on-street parking issues, where to get the garbage pickup schedule. Now, all you need do is click on the A-Z button, and you’ll find an alphabetical list of all the keywords and phrases you’ll likely be searching for (and we’ll add more as we track what you’re searching for.) So even if you don’t know that it’s the public works department that schedules the drop-off for the blockades for block parties and collects the $25 fee, you won’t spend your valuable time clicking everywhere trying to find it—you’ll just type in “block parties” or something like that.

We gave the design a lot of thought and worked closely with CivicPlus’ project manager Dana Greiner and designer Jeff Baker on the website’s components. The type is large and easy to read, while the graphics show the best of our “urban village,” from the beautiful blue skies to the emerald trees to the constant motion of our residents walking dogs, playing soccer, pruning hydrangeas or browsing a farmers market. We hope when you drop by, you’ll feel at home.

BOOSTER SHOT Mt. Lebanon’s ash trees will be getting a dose of prevention this spring. Forestry crews will be inoculating about 500 of the trees with a vaccine that will protect against the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive wood boring beetle that destroys ash trees by feeding on the tissues under their bark. The vaccine, called Tree-age, is injected under pressure into the trees’ trunks and will protect healthy trees from the Ash Borer for two years. Public Works Director Tom Kelley says the cost of the program, $22,750 for 529 trees, is a small price to pay for the preservation of the trees, which are distributed on tree lawns all over Mt. Lebanon. If you have paid a private contractor to treat a municipal street tree in front of your home, please let the public works department know so the tree will not be treated again. Contact 412-343-3403 or Trees destroyed by the ash borer have to be taken down and disposed of to prevent the spread, at a cost of about $750 to $1,000 per tree, not to mention the cost of replacing them and the time involved in waiting for the new trees to mature.

“Losing the trees would be devastating,” Kelley says.