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Dravosburg Traffic Signal Installed, Activated

Light is one block from site of fatal school bus crash

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
May 01, 2024
Posted in: Announcements

(Tube City Almanac photo)

Local officials are praising the speedy installation of a new traffic signal on Richland Avenue in Dravosburg.

The signal, which allows left turns at the intersection of Fifth Street and Richland, near Italian Village Pizza, is one of several improvements made to Dravosburg Hill in the wake of a crash between a car and a school-bus that claimed the life of a Serra Catholic High School student and seriously injured the bus driver and several other passengers.

The light is currently set to blinking red and yellow but will be operating in a few days, said a spokesperson for State Rep. Nick Pisciottano.

The signal was installed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which is currently working on an extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway — Route 43 — that will cross Richland Avenue not far from the intersection.

In the wake of the Sept. 20 accident that killed Samantha Lee Kalkbrenner, 15, and injured four other people, McKeesport police, who patrol Dravosburg Borough under contract, have stepped up traffic enforcement on Richland Avenue with assistance from state troopers.

The traffic signal is one of several improvements that also have included plastic barriers along the center line to prevent left turns and restrictions on several side streets that enter Richland Avenue.

The new signal also includes a crosswalk and pedestrian safety signals to aid people who are waiting for Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s 56 McKeesport and 59 Mon Valley buses, which stop on Richland Avenue.

Pisciottano, West Mifflin Democrat, thanked the turnpike commission, the state Department of Transportation and other agencies for getting the signal installed ahead of schedule.

“This new signal will make a busy intersection much safer for both pedestrians and drivers,” he said. “Implementing traffic infrastructure is often a very slow process; there’s a lot of red tape to get through.

“I’m pleased with how quickly we were able to make this happen thanks to coordination between the Turnpike Commission, PennDOT, Allegheny County, Dravosburg Borough, and other local leaders,” Pisciottano said. “It speaks volumes about our community’s ability to solve problems when we work together.”

The temporary signal will be replaced by a permanent signal in the next two years as the Mon-Fayette construction project continues, he said.

PennDOT estimates that on an average day, 16,000 cars use Richland Avenue, which is a county-maintained road. Last year, Allegheny County Public Works met with state and local officials to discuss improvements to the busy four-lane highway, which connects Allegheny County Airport, Bettis Laboratory and other high-traffic facilities with McKeesport.

Improvements since the Sept. 20 crash have included “No Left Turn” and “All Traffic Must Turn Right” signs at Third and Fourth streets as well as at Beech Alley, as well as “SLOW” pavement markings on Richland Avenue north of the Mansfield Bridge and prior to the road’s intersection with Third Street.

Two men who police allege were racing have been charged in connection with the accident that killed Kalkenbrenner. William R. Soliday II, 43, of Irwin, and Andrew N. Voigt, 37, of Penn Hills, are awaiting trial in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Originally published May 01, 2024.

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