Latrobe bridge detour ends; new street lights, banners eyed |
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Jeff Himler
A signal cautions motorists to keep right at the north end of the Route 981 bridge across the Loyalhanna Creek on Monday, June 25, 2018, in Latrobe. Southbound lanes of traffic on Depot Street narrow to a single lane at that point, rejoining the northbound lane after being separated by one block. The bridge was newly reopened to two-way traffic near the end of a PennDOT rehabilitation project spanning two construction seasons.

Now that the Route 981 bridge over Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe has reopened to two-way traffic, city officials are looking forward to other street improvements — including installation of decorative street lights and banners in the downtown business district.

Jarod Trunzo, executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, told city council Monday that 55 decorative street lamps will arrive in the city by the end of July. “Immediately after, they’ll start to be installed,” he said, noting local company Schultheis Electric is assisting.

“We’re excited,” Trunzo said. “After a couple of years of planning, this is actually going to happen.”

The project will replace outdated, cobra-style overhead street lights in downtown Latrobe with versions having acorn-shaped lamps that match those PennDOT included in the bridge project.

Latrobe has committed $18,333 toward the nearly $300,000 project that will largely be funded by foundation grants . City planners hope to follow with a second phase of the project that would convert about 45 additional lights to the decorative format.

The street light upgrade is being planned in conjunction with a PennDOT project in 2019 that will update traffic lights and handicapped-accessible curb cuts on many of the same downtown streets.

In several intersections, Trunzo said, two traffic light poles are to be placed instead of a single one — which won’t leave room for a separate street light.

But, he said, “We’ll be able to strap a decorative head on (the signal pole) that matches our light poles.”

On each new street light pole there will be room to hang a banner. City manager Wayne Jones asked council to select six iconic community images, such as native son and children’s television host Fred Rogers, to be depicted on most of the banners.

He suggested that 10 banners be reserved for images of local military veterans. Those banners would be displayed for one year and then turned over to the families of the featured veterans, making room for 10 new veterans’ banners the following year.

Details for applying for a veteran banner will be announced at a later date, Jones said.

As a detour for southbound traffic over the Route 981 bridge ended last week, PennDOT’s contractor restored a blinking signal atop a concrete pedestal on the north end of the span. The signal cautions motorists to keep right as they pass through a bend in the road where the route splits — the northbound lanes following Main Street, the southbound lanes Depot Street.

Jones suggested the city replace the standard signal with one styled after an old railroad signal, to reinforce the town’s historic connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad — succeeded by various rail lines, most recently Norfolk Southern.

“We have a lot of history in Latrobe, and we need to start showcasing it,” Jones said.

Periodic lane restrictions on the Loyalhanna Creek bridge still may occur as crews replace concrete on the underside of the span’s three arches, PennDOT has said. That $4.8 million project is expected to wrap up in September.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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