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Traffic flow at proposed new Latrobe Elementary School questioned | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Traffic flow at proposed new Latrobe Elementary School questioned

Jeff Himler
| Thursday, January 5, 2017 11:00 p.m
gtrSchoolTraffic010617
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
A school bus passes through the intersection of Cedar and Ligonier streets in Latrobe on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Nearby residents and business owners have concerns about the traffic there where the new Latrobe Elementary School will be built.

Residents and business owners bordering Latrobe’s Cedar and Ligonier streets think traffic at the proposed new Latrobe Elementary School could lead to problems unless planners rethink how vehicles will access the site.

Large trucks are a particular concern for some who want the school district to conduct a study of the traffic and planned entrances to the school, which is slated to be built on Latrobe’s Old Athletic Field and cover a city block bounded by Cedar, Ligonier and Cherry streets and Lincoln Avenue.

Carol Greenawalt, who resides and operates a beauty salon on Cedar Street, wrote the district and city outlining concerns.

“The traffic flow here is tremendous already,” Greenawalt said of Cedar. “This is a main road from Lincoln Avenue to Ligonier Street. A lot of tractor-trailers travel this area.

“I’m not opposed to the school. I wish they would have rethought using Cedar so much. I think they need to do a traffic study to see how congested this gets. It’s going to be a major traffic jam, especially in the morning and afternoon.”

Attorney Richard Jim hosted a group of concerned residents last month at his Ligonier office.

“There’s more traffic there than I think the (project) engineers believe,” he said. “Everybody approaches the intersection very carefully.”

City Manager Wayne Jones said he believes the project architect already has looked at traffic issues and indicated it is up to the school district if it wants to perform a formal traffic study. The city isn’t requiring one, he said, indicating 11 buses would serve the 800-student school and should not add significantly to the traffic there.

District officials didn’t return calls seeking comment.

A site plan prepared by consultant Axis Architecture and posted on the district website indicates all school buses and cars would enter the campus from a point on Cedar close to Ligonier. Buses would exit onto Cherry, near Ligonier. Cars would exit onto Cedar, closer to Lincoln.

Unless the vehicle entrance is wide enough, buses would have to swing wide when turning into the campus and could clash with residents’ vehicles parked on Cedar, Greenawalt said.

According to Greenawalt’s letter, neighbors suggested allowing for a turning radius of at least 30 feet leading in and out of the school property.

They argued campus safety could be enhanced by including a sidewalk along Cedar and by allowing for extra-wide parking spaces to provide motorists a better view of children walking through the area. The city requires a minimum parking space width of 8 feet, but residents would like that amended to 10 feet.

The residents also recommended relocating entrances and parking to an area along less-traveled Cherry and possibly cutting across a walking trail to connect the street to Lincoln. The site plan calls for play areas along Cherry, but Greenawalt suggested those could be placed elsewhere.

The school board last month authorized soliciting construction bids for the estimated $30 million new school, which will replace Latrobe’s current building for grades K-6 at Ligonier and Minehan Avenue — a former high school last renovated in 1993. The new school is planned to open in fall 2018.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or jhimler@tribweb.com.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Jeff by email at jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Categories: Westmoreland
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