New S. Main signals to activate Tuesday

Natalie Reid Miller
Observer Reporter

The newly installed traffic signals at South Main Street, South Street and Park Avenue in Washington will flash until Tuesday, when they will be activated.

Though not a true intersection, the lights will be synchronized to allow for better traffic flow in the area.

“There were some incidents with vehicles having trouble seeing around the corner,” said city Councilman Ken Westcott, head of the public works department. “We’ll get used to the lights. I think it will function a lot better than it has in the past.”

In addition to testing the signals’ functionality, including emergency vehicle pre-emption that will halt traffic when first responders approach, a seven-day test period will allow motorists to become accustomed to the addition.

The traffic signals are part of a rehabilitation project on South Main Street, from Railroad Street to Park Avenue, that includes new sidewalks, lighting and stormwater inlet and pipe improvements to alleviate flooding.

Funded by Local Share, Transportation Alternatives Program and Army Corps of Engineers grants, the $1.5 million project began June 2016 and was scheduled to conclude by November.

The removal of a fuel storage tank and old gas and water lines prolonged the project, causing traffic delays, parking and utility interruptions. Business owners there expressed frustration and said sales suffered as a result of the project.

“It’s been a long process. It’s going to be a nice complement to South Main,” said Westcott. “I think everyone will be glad, especially business owners, to have it done.”

Once Pennsylvania American Water is done replacing pipes from Railroad to South Street, the state Department of Transportation will pave the entire section of road, estimated to be complete by July.

The third and final phase of Washington’s downtown streetscape improvement commenced almost eight years after completion of the first two phases. The first two stages, a $17 million endeavor completed in 2008, included burying overhead utility wires, sidewalk and curb installation, lighting, trees and signs in the business district along North and South Main Street.