Main Street lights, one year later

Last year, Allegheny College installed new lighting along North Main Street, partly in response to the death of Hannah Morris, ’17, who was hit by a car and killed while crossing the street on Oct. 29, 2015.

Linda Wetsell, chief financial officer and treasurer of the college, said while the college had been considering ways to enhance North Main Street safety, the installation of the lights was expedited after Morris’ death.

The lights were paid for in part by Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, accroding to Wetsell. This is a state grant program for regional projects which are unable to obtain state funding under other programs.

“Half of it came from the college, matching a grant from RACP,” Wetsell said. “It’s a state grant, so that paid for half of it, and the college paid for half.”

The college worked with the firm McCormick Taylor to do a lighting study. Wetsell said the college wanted lights that would illuminate North Main Street without making surrounding areas too bright. The firm A&MP Electric installed the lights.

“We worked with a firm who did a lighting study to help us decide which lights would illuminate from sidewalk to sidewalk the best,” Wetsell said. “So they helped us with the lighting analysis and the recommendations of the lighting, which we implemented.”

Wetsell said the college, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, had some long-term projects in mind, which would help enhance the safety of North Main Street.

“It’s a continual safety effort,” Wetsell said. “Over the years we continue to do projects to make North Main Street more safe.”

Wetsell said some ideas included altering the crosswalks or narrowing North Main Street.

“We continue our discussions with PennDot and the city about some ideas that were brought forward in some community sessions over the last year,” Wetsell said. “They may involve narrowing the road, to try and help slow traffic, and there’s many ways we could narrow the road. So there’s some varieties, there could be ways we change the crosswalks, so yes, we do have some suggestions that we continue to work with PennDot and the city to implement.”

Wetsell said she felt the lights have been working as intended.

“I think they’ve been a great addition,” Wetsell said. “I think they light up the street without lighting up the whole community around it.”

Jim Carroll, PennDot District One media contact, said he saw general improvement in mood and safety after the installation of the lights.

“Everyone is optimistic that this is a huge improvement,” Carroll said. “It greatly contributes to safety.”

The Northwest Rural Planning Organization, which covers Crawford and four neighboring counties, has considered building a roundabout at the intersection of North Main and Limber streets, on the northern border of the college. Currently, there is no funding or schedule for the proposed project.

“I don’t think PennDot has any specific projects scheduled,” Carroll said.

NRPO is a group of municipal and county officials. It develops ideas for transportation improvement projects in its two and four year plans. Two year projects have funding attached. NRPO covers Crawford, Warren, Venango, Forest and Clarion counties.

Zaire Taylor, ’21, said he did not feel North Main Street was unsafe.

“It’s great now,” Taylor said. “There are actually crosswalks.”

Shane Pentland, ’18, said he felt North Main Street was very safe.

“Pretty much everything there now, as far as I can tell, is the best solution to any problems,” Pentland said.

Elizabeth Miller, ’21, said despite the improvements, more could be done to enhance pedestrian safety.

“I think there could be better monitoring. A few drivers speed through, and don’t look,” Miller said.

Miller suggested the Office of Public Safety should take a more active role in such monitoring.

“I think at times of frequent crossing for students, we should have a Public Safety employee person out there to make sure drivers adhere to the law,” Miller said.