South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Sign is a political football


 On Thursday evening, May 19, I decided to write a letter to The South Pittsburgh Reporter, thanking whoever was responsible for returning the stop sign to Pius Street and Yard Way.

I remember commenting to someone, "Sometimes government really is by and for the people!" On Friday, May 20, before I had a chance to write that letter, I got into my car, parked just beyond the stop sign and could not drive away because of the six cars that zoomed by without the slightest indication of slowing down.

Shocked and angry at what I thought was flagrant defiance of the law, I called to "vent" with my husband, who after a few minutes of conversation, suggested perhaps the sign was gone. I got out of my vehicle and discovered that he was right.

What is going on?

When my husband contacted Councilman Bruce Kraus's office on May 6 to say thanks, the person who answered his email did not deny Mr. Kraus was instrumental in getting the sign put back. Yet, when one of Jeff Koch's promoters visited our home soliciting votes, he said Jeff was responsible. We began to wonder if we were in the midst of political posturing.

A May 14 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicates Mr. Koch arranged with his "colleagues" in public works for the return of the sign. Mr. Kraus is said to have referred to a comment by a city traffic engineer the sign doesn't "belong there." Based on what we have discovered, the traffic engineer was wrong. Matt Hogue from Councilman Kraus' office contacted Amanda Broadwater, municipal traffic engineer, who told him the placement of stop signs is based on state and federal law, specifically the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

However, Section 2B.05 STOP Sign Applications cites four conditions that would warrant placement of a stop sign, one of which is applicable to Pius and Yard Way: "High speeds, restricted view, or crash records indicate a need for control by the STOP sign."

High speed is definitely an issue on Pius Street. Without a doubt, a stop sign helps the situation. When we moved to Pius Street in 1998, there was a stop sign at Pius and Yard Way. It was obviously there for years before. It was there until the street was made one way.

This does indeed seem to be a political game, with the residents of Pius Street being treated like insignificant pawns once elections are over. Perhaps there is nothing left to do but wait until there is significant damage to property or, worse, someone is seriously injured or killed before city officials will take appropriate action and show they care for people more than votes.

While I originally wanted to say a sincere thank you, I also wanted to point out many people obeyed the returned stop signs and the speed limit; however, many others, after stopping at the signs, would then accelerate so quickly, by the time they reached our home, they were again dramatically exceeding the speed limit.

In addition to returning the signs again, the authorities must monitor the situation so they will fully understand the problem. Ideally, the speed limit on Pius Street should be reduced to the same speed as on Mission Street (20 mph.).

And then the speed limit should be enforced so our street will become as safe as possible. A police car cruising by occasionally is not enough.

This is not a complicated matter. We're hoping that government "in spite of the people," will become "for the people" on Pius Street.

Fran and Joe Tarkett



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