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Monongahela pushes for guide rail

The city’s leaders are taking to task District 12 of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation over its refusal to replace a guide rail on a dangerous curve on Fourth Street.

At Wednesday’s meeting of city council, Mayor Bob Kepics and Councilman Ken Kulak both voiced displeasure with a letter written by Joseph Szczur, district engineer for District 12, about the issue.

The letter was written to the city and state Sen. J. Barry Stout, who had written to Szczur on behalf of Kepics and Kulak.

The guide rail, which was located on a sharp bend below Hilltop Bar, was the site of a fatal accident years ago and was damaged on occasions by other accidents.

PennDOT took the mangled guide rail out approximately two months ago, according to Kepics, and has since balked at replacing it.

Mayor and council have appealed to PennDOT to replace the guide rail because of the potential for accidents in the dangerous area.

“They just feel that it doesn’t reach their specs for a guide rail,” said Kulak.

“There has been at least one fatality there and there could me more in the future without a guide rail for protection,” Kepics said.

In the letter to Stout and the city, Szczur said that guide rails are installed only when they meet proper comprehensive design criteria, including vertical height of the embankment, embankment slope and average daily traffic.

Szczur went on to say that guide rails can be “an obstruction which can cause considerable damage to a vehicle and injury to a motorist.”

“They are talking about damage to a vehicle and possible injury,” Kulak said. “I’m talking about death if someone wrecks in that area and there is no guide rail.”

Szczur also said it is not PennDOT’s responsibility to place guide rails to alleviate property owners’ concerns for their property.

The letter then went on to state that maybe the problem could be alleviated if the city constructed a curb in the area and also suggested the possibility of a “speed enforcement issue” in the area.

Szczur also suggested that property owners in the area could put up an approved protective device of their own in lieu of a guide rail.

Councilman Tom Caudill said he was disappointed with the District 12 official’s cavalier attitude toward the city’s concerns in the letter.

“I was very disappointed in his response,” said Caudill.

Council also noted that part of the road where the guide rail was removed was rehabbed with tar and chipping instead of asphalt paving by PennDOT earlier this year, making the surface more dangerous.

Solicitor Keith Bassi said he found it interesting that some other roads in smaller communities were paved by PennDOT, yet one of Monongahela’s busiest and most heavily-traveled roads was tar and chipped.

Kulak suggested that he and Kepics sit down and respond in writing to Szczur’s letter and again voice their concerns.’

Bassi said it would be in the city’s best interests to put District 12 on notice in writing that it was being held accountable for the future safety of motorists in that area.


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