By Jonathan Weaver
For nearly five months, motorists leaving Kittanning Borough via South Water Street have seen construction efforts at the Walnut Street intersection.
But those efforts should be done within the month, officials reported.
Weather-permitting, the square of traffic signals at the intersection will “SINC-UP” – which stands for Signals In Coordination with Upgrades.
According to PennDOT District 10 officials, funding for the project came from the Southwestern Planning Commission.
Kittanning Borough Police Chief Bruce Mathews said officials have worked at that intersection for about two years if you count all the preliminary surveying – but not due to any particular traffic accidents.
“It’s not a troublesome spot; however, due to the nature of the intersection, whenever we do have an accident there, it’s had a tendency to be more-severe,” Chief Mathews said. “The main reason for the update wasn’t that it was problem spot, but due to the age of the equipment. The mechanical parts of (the signal) are a few decades old and it was becoming increasingly-harder to find parts for it when there was a problem with it – there was no emergency back-up when there was a problem with the light, which meant an officer had to address the area.
“When the chance came to update it with the grants and such, that was certainly something we were interested in.”
The traffic signal also pre-dated sensors – even if there was a lone motorist in the middle of the night – but that will no longer be the case.
“This is going to make it more convenient for the drivers because with the sensors, it will read when the cars are there to short the cycle when necessary and keep traffic flowing as best as possible,” Chief Mathews said.
In September, Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development Community Development Division Director Jennifer Bellas told Kittanning Borough council members that the Walnut Street/South Water Street intersection was “one of the worst signalized intersections in our District.”
At that time, Bellas also said that timing study results showed the need to replace all of the traffic signals along Market Street, but there were not enough funds to do all the work.
As with the other four block of traffic signals in town – three along Market Street and one at the Kittanning Citizens Bridge intersection – equipment will be maintained by Kittanning Borough.
Bronder Technical Services of Prospect (Butler County) Highway/PennDOT Contact Project Manager Jason Previte said crews have been at the scene working since March/April and have installed all new equipment.
“We installed all new cabling, equipment, signal-heads – everything’s new,” Previte said.
While visible by motorists, that equipment is not online yet due to damage caused during a hit-and-run accident a few weeks ago.
“We’re going to have to replace some of that,” Previte said. “We haven’t turned the new equipment on yet.”
Previte estimated repairs would be made and the new signals operational in August.
In addition to the Kittanning Borough “SINC-UP,” Bronder Technical Services has worked since the second week of April to upgrade and retime signals at 12 signalized intersections on Routes 286 and 4422 in White Township (Indiana Borough), 12 intersections along Routes 228 and 356 in the City of Butler and in Buffalo Township.
Previte said those intersections mainly focused on individual parts and mechanical upgrades.
“They weren’t complete intersection rebuilds like Kittanning was,” Previte said.
All of the “SINC UP” projects – which cost about $780,500, according to an April PennDOT news release – are to be completed by the end of December.
Other regional SINC-UP completed projects include near the Route 422/210 Intersection in Plumcreek Township, at nine intersections along Freeport Road in Harrison Township as well as a few in the City of Pittsburgh