By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
City commissioners on Wednesday approved applying to the Mercer County Metropolitan Planning Organization for $40,800 – the city would add $10,200 – to conduct a study of the nine traffic signals on Hermitage Road (state Route 18) between Lamor and Morefield roads, and the signals on East State Street at the Shenango Valley Freeway and at Maple Drive.
“The study is a response to a general observation that the signal coordination is not operating as efficiently as it could,” said City Manager Gary P. Hinkson. “I believe signals can be better coordinated to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion and unnecessary delays.”
The study would measure traffic flow at different times of day and days of the week, he said.
“Traffic patterns have changed some with new development since the last study was done, several years ago,” he said.
In that time, the Hermitage Road corridor has seen Hermitage Middle School demolished and three restaurants built on the site, just north of East State Street, and the construction of a Kohl’s department store at the Shenango Valley Freeway. A Speedway gas station and convenience store is set to open next week at Morefield Road.
The times for traffic light changes are established in a PennDOT-issued permit, and PennDOT must approve amendments.
“This study will determine and recommend changes and will support and justify any request that the city makes to PennDOT for permit changes,” Hinkson said.
Hinkson added that he expects the study would recommend equipment upgrades “and work that will have costs associated with them. Once the study is complete, we will need to identify funding to implement improvements that go beyond simply adjusting timing sequences.”
PennDOT will be notified of the study prior to it beginning, should the MPO award the money, and have input, Hinkson said.