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Traffic woes may be far from over

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS PennDOT contractors adjust the timing of traffic signals at the Five Points (SR209 and SR309) intersection in Tamaqua.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS PennDOT contractors adjust the timing of traffic signals at the Five Points (SR209 and SR309) intersection in Tamaqua.
Published December 08. 2011 05:01PM

Tamaqua's traffic woes may be far from over, despite the fact that the traffic improvements to the downtown are nearing completion.

Rob Jones, the public works director for the borough, provided an update to borough council at this week's meeting.

"The lights have been switched over. There have been problems, as everyone is aware of," he said. "They have been fixed and they're in the process of starting a 30-day trial period."

Jones explained that during this period, they will be modifying the synchronization of the signals.

However, some officials are not happy with the supposed improvements.

"Something has to be done. It's getting ridiculous," said councilman John Trudich, who lives in Owl Creek. Trudich raised questions about the amount of pollution that is being generated by the traffic that is stopped along Center Street and the danger to residents of that area.

Jones said that the issues that Trudich was speaking about were caused by a short in the pedestrian signals and that specific problem has been addressed.

"When this is done, it should increase the flow through the borough," he said, stressing that PennDOT is still working on the project.

Councilman Ken Smulligan asked why "no turn on red" signs have been posted at Spruce and Center Street and at Pine and Mauch Chunk streets.

"Those two locations are backing up traffic and we're creating a bottleneck with them," he said.

Councilman Brian Connely said that the borough specifically requested that those signs come down, but Jones said that PennDOT responded that the sight distance isn't what is required by PennDOT to remove them.

Several council members suggested removing the signs, but Jones cautioned that the borough could be liable if they modify any of the changes that PennDOT has made without permission from PennDOT.

Both Jones and Police Chief David Mattson expressed frustration in their dealings with PennDOT related to the project.

"One of their comments was that we complained about traffic north and southbound on 309," Jones said. "Now that we've alleviated that, you're complaining about traffic in town."

The borough still has to sign off on the project after the 30-day trial period.

"We can request changes," said Jones.

In other business, council received the resignation of attorney Joseph Matika as the solicitor from the zoning hearing board. Matika also serves as the solicitor for the four municipality boards that belong to Eastern Schuylkill Planning.

Council accepted the resignation of Stephen Tertel, who won election to council in November, however has since moved to Florida.

Council discussed a request from a local business to place two-hour parking signs along East Broad Street to prevent residents from parking in front of their business for an extended period of time. Council discussed the possible placement of parking meters along that section of Broad Street. Mattson said that he has discussed the parking problem with the offender and she has agreed not to park there anymore.

Council received notification from Joseph Salla Jr., Owl Creek Road, that his mailbox had been damaged by the borough plow during the October snow storm. Salla requested that the borough reimburse him for the cost of replacing the mailbox and indicated that he felt the mailbox was damaged intentionally.

Jones said that most of the mailboxes in Owl Creek are, in fact, located in the borough's right of way; however, if they are moved back, the post office cannot reach them to deliver the mail.

Mayor Chris Morrison reminded residents that contractors must be licensed through the state and should provide a license number before being hired by residents. Additionally, residents can look on the attorney general's website to see if a contractor is licensed.

Tony Rodrigue, a member of the planning commission, indicated that the planning commission will be losing another member in January when his term expires.

"We will be down two members," he said. "We want to let everyone know that there are currently two openings on the commission."

Anyone who is interested in applying for a position on the commission should contact the borough. The commission also needs a secretary.

Council also held an executive session to discuss personnel.

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