Murrysville Council mulls land donation to fix intersection problem

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Murrysville Council has postponed action on a proposed donation of land which would allow the municipality to realign and re-open the Branthoover Cutoff between Business Rt. 22 and Old William Penn Highway.

The Branthoover Cutoff is one of three intersections in the municipality that was built during the 1940s to provide access to Old William Penn Highway while Rt. 22 was under construction. The cutoff consists of a short road that connects the other two at a severe angle and has three angled intersection points with Rt. 22.

Chief Administrator Jim Morrison said last week that the cutoff was never designed properly as a connector road and has a history of accidents and problems due to its confusing layout.

In March, acting on a recommendation from the municipality’s insurance company, the cutoff was closed.

One proposed remedy for the situation is to re-design the intersection as a traditional T-intersection so that traffic could enter and exit Old William Penn Highway with a right angle turn at a stop sign at Beverly Court. The connector road would intersect Rt. 22 using one of the existing accesses. Doing so would require the use of a small triangle of land between the two roads which belongs to the Parkins family of Murrysville. The family has agreed to donate the land, however, the amount of land needed for the intersection could create a lack of space around an existing building on the property. As a result, future changes to the building could cause zoning violations. An agreement that would relieve the building owners from future zoning violations has been drawn up, however discussion about the proposed solution stalled last week as council mulled over the consequences.

Last week Greg Taddonio of Beverly Court questioned why council would proceed with the acquisition of the Parkins property when no traffic study has been done on the proposed re-design of the intersection. “There was no traffic study done when the Branthoover Cutoff was closed and no traffic study done on the new configuration,” he told council. “Why commit the resources when we are not sure this is the right thing to do? This plan would also create another non-conforming property. Do we need that?”

“We have not spent any resources yet,” replied Mr. Morrison. ”We will wait until we consummate the land deal before we bid the design contract for the project. If council decides to accept the land, we will move forward at that point.”

“Let’s see what the impact is from closing it,” said councilman Jeffery Kepler. “We never went back to see if there is a need for the intersection.”

Mr. Morrison said there have not been a large number of calls or complaints about closing the cutoff. However, he did note that people are cutting through the parking lot of the S&T Bank nearby.

Council members voted to table action on the land donation until further analysis and feedback can be obtained from the affected properties. A decision on the land donation is expected at the first council meeting in September.

Tim Means, freelance writer:

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