Balky signals and a brand-new traffic bottleneck

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

From the e-mailbag:

Stephen M. wonders why the traffic signals on Banksville Road don’t seem to be cycling properly; for instance, left-turn arrows are activating when no one is in the turn lane. PennDOT’s Jim Struzzi answers that pavement sensors haven’t been reconnected to control boxes as a contractor continues work on sidewalk improvements at intersections, part of the season-long repaving project. Look for that to happen as the project wraps up.

Chip D. is distressed about the new traffic pattern at the Route 28 end of the 40th Street Bridge, which he says is backing vehicles across the bridge and into Lawrenceville during peak periods. It squeezes all traffic into a single lane approaching the traffic signal. He suggested removing some striping and part of a new traffic island to open a second lane for right-turn and through traffic and making the left lane a left-only for Millvale-bound traffic.

Mr. Struzzi said the design was requested by Millvale to create a more pedestrian-friendly connection from the heart of town to its riverfront park. PennDOT expects traffic on the bridge to improve once the 31st Street Bridge reopens, but that might not come until 2014.

Anthony checks in from Denver about the problem of trains pausing and stopping between stations in the new $523 million North Shore Connector:

“I’ve ridden light rail systems in Minneapolis, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, and in the UK. In none of these other places do signals remain red until the train approaches, causing the stopping and starting I’ve noticed while in Pittsburgh …

“In cities with modern light rail, the guideway and signals are engineered to allow the operation of trains up to near freeway speeds. In Denver, there are some stretches of track that allow operation up to 55 mph. If this signaling system were installed in any of these other systems, such speed wouldn’t be possible.

“While in Pittsburgh last month, I liked the North Shore extension, and the increased accessibility to many of Pittsburgh’s popular venues on the North Shore. However, in comparison to these other systems, I found the signal system to be problematic and archaic with its constant need to have trains stop and start while in operation.”

On to a short list of road work advisories:

NEW AT 2:57 p.m.: Crack and joint sealing on Route 30 will cause shifting short-term lane closures starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday between the Westinghouse Bridge and a point east of Route 48 in North Versailles. Work will occur weeknights through Oct. 30. Restrictions are lifted by 6 a.m. daily.

The inbound Liberty Tunnel will have single-lane traffic starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday for maintenance. Restrictions lift by 5 a.m.

The ramp from northbound Interstate 579-Crosstown Boulevard to Seventh Avenue and the ramps from Seventh Avenue to southbound I-579 and Bigelow Boulevard/Bedford Avenue will have lanes closed daily starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, with work ending by 5 a.m. the next day. The Bedford Avenue entrance to the HOV lanes will be closed during the same times.

Sidewalk construction on Commonwealth Place in Downtown Pittsburgh will continue through November, causing short-term lane closures at the Liberty Avenue and Allies intersections from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

Norfolk Southern will replace an at-grade crossing on Route 837 in Dravosburg next week, causing the road to close in both directions to through traffic from 9 a.m. Monday to about 6 p.m. Tuesday between the McKeesport-Duquesne and Mansfield bridges.

Crack and joint sealing operations on Route 51 may cause overnight short-term moving lane closures after 7 p.m. through Thursday between the I-79 interchange and West End Bridge.

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