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November 16, 2012

City’s ‘front door’ studied

HERMITAGE — Getting rid of the double turning lanes, making a center turn lane wider and installing crosswalks would go a long way to making East State Street a safer and more attractive “front door” for Hermitage, a consultant said Thursday.

Stephen R. Ferranti spoke about the Hermitage part of a study of the Irvine Avenue-State Street corridor in Sharon and Hermitage, saying that making the corridor safer and more attractive will reap economic benefits.

“If you have good access, people will more often come to a corridor,” said Ferranti, principal engineer with SRF Associates, Rochester, NY., the firm awarded a $280,000 contract to conduct the study.

Because of State Street’s already high traffic volume, it is the “front door” of the city, the first thing that people see when they come to the city, Ferranti said. When a place looks good, people feel good going there, he said.

While some of the study’s recommendations could take years to accomplish, such as connecting sidewalks, reducing curb cuts and creating bicycle lanes, others would require much less effort.

“This is not a study to put on a shelf,” Ferranti said. “We have items in there that can be enacted right now.”

Immediate improvements could be upgrading traffic signals, increasing the visibility of crosswalks and expediting approval for development and redevelopment proposals, he said.

The segment of road between the Sharon line and Buhl Farm Drive has more than two times the number of accidents than the state average because of the abrupt expansion from two lanes to five as motorists travel eastbound, unmanaged access to the road from businesses and a center-turn lane that is too narrow, Ferranti said.

He recommended reducing the number of lanes to three with expanded travel lanes and center-turn lane. These measures would slow speeds and make left turns safer, he said.

Intersections in the corridor need tweaked to make them safer and easier to travel, Ferranti said. The dual left-turn lanes at Buhl Farm Drive and Hermitage Road should be eliminated and replaced by single turn lanes, and the entrance to Hermitage Towne Plaza should be revamped to add pedestrian crossings and eliminate the confusion caused by the small island.

The study, funded by PennDOT, not only recommends changes but provides a usable tool to score money to implement them, Ferranti said.

“You’re positioned beautifully to compete with anyone in the state for funding,” Ferranti said.

The entire study is available at www.statestreet.org

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