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September 25, 2003


envelopeAction demanded at 5th & Darragh intersection

To the editor: I am writing concerning recent discussions about the dangerous intersection at Fifth and Darragh streets. As an employee of UPMC, I often cross at this intersection. For many years, it has been a very busy intersection. As with all intersections, the driver in a hurry and not paying attention will always create an accident. However, now that the University is building at this intersection, this site has become much more inviting of an accident by the careless driver. Such was the case on Sept. 10, 2003.

My father was crossing the street at this intersection. He was crossing on a green light and taking normal precautions. He still was struck by a car trying to race through the intersection. The accident, mentioned by Lawrence Walsh in the Sept. 12 Post-Gazette, makes even stronger the point that something must be done about this intersection. There is no doubt in my mind or the minds of several people who witnessed this accident that the driver of the car was being careless and is at fault.

However, the construction taking place, along with the number of cars passing through this intersection, will contribute to this type of accident happening again. Something must be done very soon about this intersection. It must be made safer for people crossing the street before someone is killed.

The amount of pain and anxiety caused by this accident still increases today. I demand that action be taken as soon as possible.

John Diulus Certified Anesthesia Technologist University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Ana M. Guzman, associate vice chancellor, Facilities Management, replies:

The Biomedical Sciences Tower 3 project and the impact on pedestrian and vehicular traffic was thoroughly analyzed before construction started. As per City of Pittsburgh requirement, the construction manager for the project retained the services of a consulting team, Trans Associates, to develop a traffic management plan for the areas affected by the construction. The plan approved by the city includes a number of actions to protect pedestrian safety in that area and range from placing directional signage and barriers, to modifying the pedestrian walk/don’t walk signal at the Fifth Avenue/Darragh Street/McKee Place intersection. In fact, of all the intersections along Fifth Avenue in Oakland, this intersection is now only the second one with a “pedestrian only” signal phase.

After the plan was implemented, it was brought to our attention that — although the signs were very clear as to pedestrian crossing areas — there were pedestrian crossing lines traversing Fifth Avenue that could create some confusion, so these lines were removed.

Also, the project sign was moved in order to improve the visibility of drivers. Additionally, the city’s Traffic Engineering Division is currently reviewing other options that may improve pedestrian safety.

The fact is that Fifth Avenue and intersecting streets are heavily used by both automobiles and pedestrians. As a result, drivers and pedestrians need to be keenly aware of one another to avoid accidents such as the unfortunate event Mr. Diulus referred to, as well as a similar but unrelated accident that took place at about the same time one block away from the construction site, on Forbes Avenue.

We hope that through publications such as this, drivers will be made more aware of pedestrians and also pedestrians will exercise more care and be more cognizant of the traffic on the heavily traveled streets of Oakland.

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