Market and Penn get traffic study

A traffic study is underway at the intersection of Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Traffic counters have been placed on two corners of the intersection this week to gather information regarding a proposal from City Councilman John Lewis that would make left-hand turns permissible for eastbound traffic on Market Street during the duration of the green light, rather than just during the left-turn arrow.

PennDOT District Press Officer Jim Carroll said the counters, which were placed by PennDOT, are currently calculating traffic by hour. He explained that the next step in the process will entail “hav(ing) some folks there doing a manual count on turning movements.”

At council’s March meeting, Lewis informed council about a letter he planned to send to PennDOT asking for the study.

Lewis said that the change was approved in the second phase of Streetscape.

“I look at this as something we really have to address,” he said. “Let’s get the (traffic) flow moving. You back up three cars (in the left lane) and you block up two lanes.”

“If it (the intersection) does meet the criteria, it would be up to the city to make the changes,” Carroll said.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said that, unlike the intersection at Liberty Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, if the study meets the criteria for the change, the city is not obligated to proceed.

“We don’t necessarily have to do it,” Holtz explained. “We have a choice.”

He said the proposal would go before council again “to see if they want to proceed with the changes and any associated costs.”

Making the change likely isn’t as simple as flipping some switches with the traffic light sequencing. The status of the controller, which runs the light sequence, as well as the pole and the span wires will need to be reviewed.

While a full investigation has not been undertaken at this point to determine what the proposal might cost, Holtz said, “There is going to be a cost.”

Carroll said results of the study should be released by early May.