By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Although you hear grumbles about “another traffic light” whenever Hermitage city officials discuss a new traffic signal, officials are moving ahead with plans to put up one on South Hermitage Road at LindenPointe technical business park.
The city has the money and a traffic study has shown that a light is warranted, said City Manager Gary P. Hinkson. Butler County Community College, which has a campus in LindenPointe, asked for a light, he said.
City commissioners will be asked Wednesday to approve the necessary agreements with PennDOT to allow city officials to move forward with the plan.
The money for the traffic light, which also would serve Presidential Boulevard and Carroll Lane, would come from the state through a Regional Assistance Capital Grant the city and Fred George obtained years ago to build roads, utilities and other infrastructure in LindenPointe.
The city is paying for soft costs, such as engineering, while state funds will take care of construction, said Assistant City Manager Gary M. Gulla.
A traffic signal also would aid pedestrians from the Carroll Lane area who want to walk on LindenPointe’s trails.
Commissioner Rhonda Paglia prompted a discussion about roundabouts when she asked if one could be built at the intersection instead of a traffic light.
“We would save electricity,” she said. “We wouldn’t have to have another light and people could turn right or left there.”
Hinkson responded that the money for the light is budgeted and the city would have to undertake another study, at unknown cost, for a roundabout.
Solicitor Thomas W. Kuster said the city probably would have to buy land for a roundabout and Jeremy P. Coxe, assistant director of planning and development, noted there are five travel lanes.
“This is not a traditional intersection,” he said.
“I have concerns about a roundabout there,” said Police Chief Brian Blair. “I don’t think that’s quite the right place for a roundabout.”
Other commissioners expressed reservations about roundabouts.
“I’m not sure we’re sold on a roundabout,” said Commissioner Duane J. Piccirilli.
“They (PennDOT) seem to be sold on it but I’m not,” said Commissioner Rita L. Ferringer, referring to PennDOT’s interests in putting in roundabouts at various intersections in Mercer County.
Paglia said she had forgotten about the five lanes on South Hermitage Road, and conceded the LindenPointe intersection might not be the best place for one.
However, she asked officials to keep roundabouts in mind for future projects.
“I don’t think roundabouts should be discarded all together,” she said.
Other communities have installed them with success in terms of managing traffic flow, reducing carbon footprints and saving money, she said.
“If some members of our board were a little more open-minded, perhaps they could see the benefits of adding several roundabouts in our community and the valley,” she said. “We should work every way we can to use taxpayer dollars efficiently.”
Hinkson said officials want to put up the light this year.