In theory, adding a dedicated left-turn lane from Washington Avenue onto Chartiers Street near the Rite-Aid store could help reduce some of the traffic problems plaguing the Greater Bridgeville area.
If there was a left-turn stacking lane, drivers trying to go straight into South Fayette would no longer get stuck behind vehicles waiting to turn left onto Chartiers Street.
Some Bridgeville officials hope that this additional lane will be included in the multi-phase traffic-improvement plan that includes widening the Chartiers Creek Bridge.
But PennDOT isn’t convinced a dedicated left-turn lane is essential.
Traffic engineers recently observed the area during morning and afternoon rush hour and found that from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. no cars turned left from Washington Avenue to Chartiers Street. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., only 14 cars made that left turn.
“PennDOT’s opinion was that there’s not a huge demand for that turning lane,” said Mike Haberman, of Gateway Engineers, the borough’s engineering consultant.
Bridgeville Mayor Pat DeBlasio argued that those 14 cars turning left during afternoon rush hour have a disproportionate effect on traffic congestion on Washington Avenue. Plus, he said, traffic backups in Bridgeville’s aren’t limited to two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. People get stuck behind cars waiting to turn left throughout the day, and it has a very real effect on Bridgeville and its businesses.
“Those are the people in our business district” he said. “They’re our residents. They’re our customers.”
However, the geography of that section of road also presents a problem, Haberman said.
The only direction that the road could be widened is toward the Rite-Aid parking lot. That means that some of the traffic coming from the newly widened bridge might have to veer in one direction, then quickly back to other, to line up with Washington Avenue.
“The lanes have to physically line and up and transition at certain rates depending on the speed limits and roadway design criteria,” Haberman said.
It could cost as much as $1 million to add the left-turn lane, according to one estimate (which includes the price of acquiring land to widen the road).
“[PennDOT’s] opinion,” said Haberman, “was where we’re at in the process, the money they’ve secured, they money they’ve we’ve spent, the money they think they can secure to finish the project — potentially adding another $1 million to it gave them some pause.”
DeBlasio said that even a shortened left-turn lane could have a positive impact and that the issue is worth continued evaluation.