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* CORRECTION: This story was corrected after publication.
Audible sensors for the sight-impaired will be added to this busy intersection with the help of a state grant. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
McKeesport officials will create a traffic safety program to look for ways to improve pedestrian safety and reduce speeding and accidents in the city.
In addition, the busy intersection of Lysle Boulevard and Coursin Street --- where "near misses" between cars and pedestrians are frequent --- will get improved crossing signals, and the intersection of Versailles and Evans avenues will be entirely revamped.
The improvements are being funded in part through a $344,000 grant from the state's Automated Red-Light Enforcement Fund. The grant was announced last week by state Sen. Jim Brewster and state Rep. Austin Davis.
McKeesport was one of 38 municipalities statewide receiving about $15.4 million in funding.
The Automated Red-Light Enforcement Fund receives quarterly payments from fines collected at intersections where traffic cameras are used to spot infractions.
Under state law, since 2012, municipalities may apply for special permission from the state Department of Transportatiion to use automatic red-light enforcement cameras. Most of the cameras currently in use are in Philadelphia, although Abington Twp., a Philadelphia suburb, also uses automated red-light enforcement.*
Grant funding must be used on projects to improve safety and reduce congestion.
Other local municipalities receiving funding include Swissvale, which will receive $60,000 to upgrade the traffic signal at the intersection of South Braddock Avenue, Waverly Street and Edgewood Avenue; and Sewickley Twp., Westmoreland County, which will receive $53,000 to install warning lights on Lowber Road near Yough Senior High School.
McKeesport will receive funding for three distinct projects:
Upgrades to the traffic signal at the corner of Versailles and Evans, including new handicapped-accessible ramps and a new traffic signal and support arms;
Installation of audible crosswalk warnings at the intersection of Lysle Boulevard and Coursin Street; and
Creation of a city-wide traffic safety program to assess trouble spots, including areas where there are complaints about speeding, where conditions are unsafe for pedestrians, or visibility or safety conditions are otherwise poor.
Brewster called the grant "instrumental to improve traffic flow and safety."
"I believe this funding is an excellent step in addressing the traffic concerns of local residents and those traveling through the area," he said.
McKeesport city electrician Tom Rosso has been working with the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator at Allegheny County, as well as the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind, to plan improvements to the signal at Lysle and Coursin.
A Shop 'n Save, Eat 'n Park, Rite Aid and Dollar General are all located at the corner, which is near Senior Care Plaza and Hi View Gardens apartments. Several bus routes also stop at the intersection.
There have been several pedestrian accidents on Lysle Boulevard in recent years, and near-misses are a frequent occurence.
"Audible signals will not only help visually impaired pedestrians, but also our everyday pedestrian traffic accessing the bus line and the local businesses," Rosso said.
The improvements at the intersection of Versailles and Evans are designed to provide safer conditions for emergency vehicles headed to UPMC McKeesport hospital and the McKeesport Ambulance Rescue Service base, as well as for students walking to one of the two schools in the area.
Carnegie Library of McKeesport is also nearby.
Mayor Michael Cherepko said improving that intersection is one of several "valuable projects that have been on our radar in terms of traffic safety for a number of years."
The traffic safety program will look for ways to improve safety for pedestrians and motorists in school zones, parks and playgrounds, Cherepko said.
"This is great news for the city of McKeesport," Davis said. "Improving traffic and pedestrian safety is key to ensuring the safety of our residents, as well as continuing progress in our revitalization efforts."
Other Allegheny County communities receiving funding include Churchill, Mt. Lebanon Twp., Richland Twp., Pittsburgh and Springdale.
* CORRECTION: This story was corrected on June 7, 2019, to note that in addition to Philadelphia, Abington Twp., Montgomery County, also uses automatic red-light enforcement cameras. We apologize for the error.
Originally published June 04, 2019.