South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

No left turn on Josephine has been years in the making


Motorists continue to ignore the "No Left Turn" signs coming from Josephine Street and turning onto 18th Street. After a study and an examination of accident data for the intersection, the City of Pittsburgh Public Works department determined traffic calming measures were necessary.

The intersection where Josephine Street intersects with 18th Street has been a problem for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians for years, if not decades, according to Councilman Bruce Kraus.

An 18th Street resident, Mr. Kraus said the intersection has been the scene of accidents and close calls for much longer than his term in office. In his seven years as a councilman, he has forwarded a multitude of complaints about the intersection to the city's Department of Public Works' traffic division.

"The intersection has been toxic for many years," the councilman said.

As a response to the forwarded complaints and additional complaints to the city's 311 Response Center, the Public Works division commissioned a study and analysis of traffic and accident data for the intersection to see if changes were warranted for the area. The study performed by traffic engineers for Mackin Engineering Company took place over several days in late September of 2013.

Traffic volume was measured in 15-minute increments in both the northbound and southbound lanes of 18th Street and along westbound Josephine Street. Turning movement counts were also performed for the intersection during peak weekday hours as part of the study.

Bike and pedestrian movements were also collected at the same time.

Crash data from PennDOT's Crash Data Access and Retrieval Tool (CDART) system from January 2008 through December 2012 was also examined. During this period, there were nine reported crashes that included personal injury or property damage exceeding requirements for a reportable crash.

The highest number of crashes occurred in 2009 when there were six reported crashes, two of which were head-on and three right-angle accidents.

In completing the analysis of the intersection, Mackin concluded a properly designed and maintained traffic signal at the intersection would provide a number of benefits. Those benefits would include increased traffic handing capacity; reduced frequency and severity of right-angle accidents; and, being able to interrupt traffic to accommodate left-turns to and from Josephine Street.

With costs to install a traffic signal ranging up to $300,000, Mr. Kraus said other methods of traffic calming would be explored first, including the "No Left Turn" signs recently installed on Josephine prohibiting left turns onto 18th Street. Although city officials are not committed to the signs, if they don't work to cut the accidents and close calls.

"The problem is how close people come to (hitting cars) coming from Josephine," the councilman said.

Mr. Kraus maintained he didn't have the power to have signs or signals installed there or anywhere else in his district, saying that was determined by the city's traffic engineers. He pointed out there were traffic and speeding issues on a number of streets in the district including on Matthews and Bausman in Knoxville, Pius Street in the South Side Slopes and at a number of intersections along East Carson Streets.

"Twenty-second and Carson is a problem for pedestrians that we're wrestling with," he said.

As far as the Josephine and 18th intersection is concerned, he said a new housing project near the intersection may change parking and traffic volumes in the area. In the meantime, motorists have to use other options to turn onto 18th Street including going down to Mary, Jane or East Carson to head up the hill.

The city will continue to monitor traffic in the area and the councilman will continue to forward complaints and input from the community to 311 and traffic engineers.


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