Important McKees Rocks road returns to 2-way traffic, delighting businesses
McKees Rocks business owners Friday applauded the official reopening of their main drag, Chartiers Avenue, as a two-way street and happily said goodbye to a relic of urban planning from the 1980s.
“Everyone realized this change was needed for a number of years,” said Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corp. “This was really a barrier to a functioning business district. It took half of the 17,000 vehicles that use the corridor daily around the rear of the buildings.”
Planners made Chartiers Avenue a two-lane outbound one-way more than 25 years ago and shifted inbound traffic to a two-lane one-way on Furnace Street, behind the businesses on Chartiers Avenue.
Don Hollowood, 58, owner of Hollowood Music, said he and his colleagues have been hoping for a reversal for quite a while – “so half the people going through the town don’t just see the back of our buildings. Anything that makes it more appealing for new business.”
He said, “Back when they made it a one-way, it was almost a similar philosophy — ‘If there’s not so much traffic (congestion), it will help business.’ This many years later we see less (business).”
Vrcek said the old configuration “discouraged pedestrian traffic.”
Vrcek pointed to other one-way street experiments around Allegheny Center in the North Side and on Penn Circle in East Liberty that failed.
“That thinking has turned around,” he said.
The new configuration has been in place since Tuesday.
Dwayne Grimes, owner of Grimes Interiors, said the two-way street will be less confusing.
“I agreed with it based on that it will go back to a community street,” Grimes said. “On the way home it was like a raceway. It will definitely make it safer.”
Residents seemed to favor the change, particularly if it helps businesses on the street, they said.
“I think it will have a big impact. I hope so,” said Katie Playso, 51, of McKees Rocks. “There was nowhere to park before.”
Nezzie Brinson, 58, of Mc-Kees Rocks, sees the change from a more practical angle.
“You really have to watch when you cross the street now and look both ways,” Brinson said. “I was so used to looking one way, I almost got hit.”
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or [email protected].