New Oakmont Bakery’s opening week successful for the shop, hectic for borough and school district officials
The new Oakmont Bakery at Third Street and Hulton Road in Oakmont has been open only a week and the traffic nightmares have begun.
“The whole area’s a disaster, but it will get worked out,” interim borough Manager Harry Dilmore said Tuesday. “We knew there was going to be a learning curve.”
Owner Marc Serrao and his family celebrated the grand opening of the new 19,000-square-foot facility on Feb. 5.
Thousands of people have visited the bakery since then, with many ignoring traffic laws, parking along yellow-painted curbs and outside of the shop’s lots.
“Our first week was a bit overwhelming for everyone — our customers, bakery staff, high school personnel, high school parents and Oakmont residents,” said Serrao via email. “We anticipated a busy week, but it was much busier that we planned for.”
Traffic signs at the Third Street intersection warn motorists not to turn left onto Hulton Road between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays but the past week has seen those signs largely ignored.
Things got so bad the borough sent a letter to PennDOT also requesting a no left turn restriction from Hulton Road onto Third Street at those same times. The state owns Hulton Road, so any change in traffic patterns on it would have to come from PennDOT.
Two PennDOT traffic engineers were in the area Wednesday to observe the problems. An email to PennDOT with questions about Hulton Road traffic was not immediately returned.
Police could put a barrier on Third Street during school arrival and dismissal times if the state grants the borough’s request.
“I think they’d be crazy if they didn’t,” said Dilmore, who received multiple emails from residents with traffic complaints.
Turning right from Hulton Road onto Third Street is prohibited from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays to help keep bridge traffic moving.
Riverview High School is right across the street from the bakery. Its bus loop faces the shop’s main entrance.
District Safety Director Bob Rizzo said people park in the school’s bus loop, along the school’s service road and, sometimes, along Third Street waiting for a bakery parking lot spot to open.
“I’m sure even the bakery did not expect this turnout,” Rizzo said. “It’s incredible.”
He said there are not many issues with students’ morning arrival, but afternoon dismissals have been challenging. Police have assisted every day with traffic details.
Police Chief Michael Ford met with Serrao Monday to discuss ways to reduce the parking and traffic problems.
“He gave me some great suggestions and we’re implementing all of them,” Serrao said. “Better signage in our lots and on Sweet Street (the bakery’s own small roadway), notification to our customers regarding school parking and safety for our children. We will continue to work at ensuring safety for the community and an enjoyable experience for our guests.”
Ford said everyone has been working together to address the traffic issues, and he believes things will calm down in the weeks to come.
He said motorists should “use patience and have vigilance while driving, especially during (student) arrival and dismissals.”
Borough officials said they expect to talk more about the bakery and parking issues at the next Oakmont Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.