Geometry, traffic lights and Hulton road
Fundamental geometry tells us that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Despite this known fact if you live in Western Pennsylvania, especially at this time of the year, you know that the shortest distance between two points is under construction. If you don't believe that just get in your car and drive around for while.
While you are out driving, particularly if it is during the morning rush hour, and you happen to travel down Allegheny River Boulevard to Hulton road you may notice that traffic backs up quit a bit from the traffic signal at the intersection. Now considering the volume of traffic that traverses the Allegheny River from Oakmont to Harmarville each day this should come as no surprise.
When the property that was formerly an Exxon gas station was sold and turned into a Wall Greens pharmacy one of the requirements was that a traffic signal be placed where Allegheny River Boulevard and Allegheny Avenue intersect with Hulton Road. I was somewhat fearful of the effects of putting a traffic signal at these intersections thinking it would add to what was already a bottle neck in the traffic flow and make matters worse.
Much to my surprise a good deal of engineering work went into synchronizing both lights at the railroad crossing and the other signal at the Harmarville side of the bridge. I think overall it has made rush hour traffic flow at a better pace than before with one exception.
It is this exception that leads me to write this blog entry. Human nature being what it is there will always be some in a group that are impatient and will try to beat the system. Such is the case with the traffic signals on Hulton Road. It now seems that during morning rush hour people who can not wait on Hulton road for the normal traffic cycle are turning off at Wade Lane or Fifth Street and then proceeding down Woodland Avenue to Oakmont Avenue where when they reach the light at Hulton road they have the right of way making a right turn onto Hulton Road.
When enough people do this you can't get any vehicles that are north bound on the boulevard who have to make a left turn to get into the line of traffic approaching the bridge through the light on a normal cycle. Needless to say this causes much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the people waiting to make a left at the light, one of whom is my wife Linda who is riding in the passenger side of my vehicle. I try to keep my cool in congested traffic and not let it raise my blood pressure more than a point or two, Linda on the other hand has to vent when situations like this occur and guess who she vents at? That is another reason that I'm writing this in the blog.
So what is to be done about this? I plan on starting by calling the mayor and describing the problem and asking if there is anything that the borough can do to help. Hulton Road is a state highway and there may be limitations that the local municipality can place on traffic flow. It would be nice if there were no left turns permitted onto Wade Lane and Fifth Street from 07:00 to 09:00 AM Monday through Friday. Or better yet no left turn from Oakmont Avenue onto Hulton road for the same time duration. That would probably be a simpler alternative.
So if you live in town or have to travel Hulton Road during rush hour you might want to consider contacting "the powers that be" and expressing your interest in seeing that all that money spent on a study to determine traffic flow and signal timing isn't circumvented by a group of drivers taking a short cut to gain a minuet or two in their daily commute. If you do so please let me know.
As a side bar not directly related to this posting I haven't quite figured out which direction Allegheny River Boulevard takes on the compass. I have heard the local police department during radio communications refer to going east or west on Allegheny River Boulevard and the same for Allegheny Avenue. If you cross the river the Norfolk Southern Railroad refers to the trains moving on the single track that run parallel to the river as being either east bound or west bound. The first time I heard a locomotive tell dispatch that they were proceeding east on the single track past mile post 66.8 I wanted to jump in the car and rush down to see how the train was going to float across the river to go east!
All public safety agencies have always referred to Rt. 28, which also parallels the river and the railroad tracks, as either north or south bound. I think they do this just to try to confuse me. There, now I have vented and I feel better. Thank you for reading this far.