Around the Town in Oakmont PA

My thoughts and musings on life, technology and living in my adopted home town.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

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.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Words of wit and wisdom for the day

"Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate,no despotism can enslave. At home, afriend, abroad, an introduction,in solitude a solace and in society anornament.It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage." - Joseph Addison

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It is time to let your voice be heard

I have been subscribed to a mailing list run by Bob Logue, former KDKA talk show host and community activist, and believe in what he and his STOP group are trying to accomplish.

I received the following email from the list this morning and feel that it should be disseminated as far and wide as possible. Please read the email below and act on it if possible. If you don't have time to write your representatives please call their offices and let them know you want REAL CHANGE in property taxes in Pennsylvania. Now it the time to let our voices be heard.

"To The General Public

Pennsylvania homeowners could be facing substantial increases in property taxes if the PA Supreme Court rules unconstitutional the base year property assessment system used by almost all counties in Pennsylvania. That ruling could come at any time, and may require counties to undertake annual or biannual reassessments of every property in every county.

In 2008 the PA House of Representatives voted 193-0 in favor of a constitutional amendment to permit abolishment of all property taxes on primary residences. The Senate Leadership killed a similar bill preventing progress on the fight to abolish all three property taxes (school, county and municipal) on primary residences.

To protect your home, you must be actively involved in urging the legislature to use the emergency provision of the PA Constitution to pass a constitutional amendment to permit primary residence property tax abolishment.

STOP\TREC a grassroots organization invites you to learn about their Primary Residence Protection plan at and (hit on STOP page). Help educate your family and friends.

You can publicly demonstrate your support of property tax abolishment on primary residences by displaying bumper stickers that read STOP TAX ON HOMES. To purchase bumper stickers for a $1 donation (which includes postage) call (724) 354-2348. Or write to STOP\TREC c/o Charlotte Ishman, 121 Dead End Road, Shelocta, PA 15774. Order extra bumper stickers for your legislators, family and friends.

Bumper Stickers are removable and made in the USA. Copy of bumper sticker printed in red below.

John Czekanski

STOP Primary Residence Protection Plan


CALL 724-354-2348



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day

For those of you who haven't yet done so now it the time to get all of those forms filled out, all of the receipts gathered and sit down with the bottle of Tylenol and put this annual duty to bed for yet another year.

I am always amazed at the amount of whaling and gnashing of teeth on the week leading up to April 15th each year by the populous in general. After the date passes there are a select few that keep the fight alive for lower taxes but for the most part the outrage subsides and is soon forgotten.

It is for that reason that I do not have a bright outlook for the possibility of getting any real relief for my wallet from the tax man in the foreseeable future I'm sorry to say. Sorry because I feel that if this problem is not addressed that it will lead to the eventual fall of the United States of America as we know it today.

Sooner or latter we will reach that tipping point where one half of the nation is working to support the other half and the half that is doing the paying will get fed up and they rise up and do something about it. At this time there is no way to tell for sure what that something will be.

My first wish is that the reaction would be a huge turn out at the voting polls sending the message that we will no longer stand for unlimited government spending and waste. Past history tells me that unless in the wake of this economic down turn the ire of the public has finally awakened November will bring no changes to the governing body.

We currently have a government that is out of control in spending taxpayers money in order to finance programs that the federal government has no reason or requirement to be conducting. They have grown addicted to the power that is provided by the manipulation of the tax code in order to retain office and make social policy. I pray that I am wrong and that we have finally reached that tipping point where we no longer will simply allow this injustice to continue.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Difficult times for people of the Pittsburgh area

The loss of the three police officers this past Saturday in the City of Pittsburgh has cast a pall of gloom over the entire area. The loss of any human life is tragic but we are all the more affected when that loss comes to a group that dedicates their lives to protecting and serving the public. The senseless way these young men were murdered has shocked us all and reminded that there truly is good and evil in the world that we live in.

At one time I was a member of the Oakmont Auxiliary Police who supplement the regular officers mostly for traffic control at fires and accident scenes. I became friends with a number of the officers on the force at that time and managed to get a small peek into their world from the outside looking in. While never having been a part of their community I can tell you that all of the reports you are hearing in the media about them being "family" and part of a "brotherhood" are truer than you might imagine. There is a common bond among them that outsiders usually can't perceive or understand. I can also tell you that officers from the surrounding areas are feeling the pain of the loss just as those in the city who worked with these men on a daily basis.

I did not know any of the slain officers personally, my best friend however has several relatives that are on the police force in Pittsburgh. One of them and her partner who had just gone off duty responded to the call and the two of them were on the scene moments after the three offices were shot. It is only by the grace of God and "street smarts" in the way they approached the scene that they were not the next to be gunned down.

At this point in time I can only offer prayers that God will comfort the family and friends of these three men. I can't begin to imagine the pain caused by their loss to their wives and children and extended families.

Despite a great internal struggle I will also pray for the man who perpetrated these heinous crimes. I heard a number of friends and family make comments that the shooter should be gunned down by any means possible and left to die.

I have to admit that watching and listening to these events unfold on Saturday I had the same impulses in my head while my heart told me that our Savior Jesus Christ would not approve of the sentiments going through my mind at the time.

So let us take time to mourn the fallen and pray for their loved ones and do what we can to see that our fellow men and women do not stray down that path of evil that leads them to bring so much sorrow to their fellow human beings.