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Lower Speed Limit Now in Effect on Atherton Street in State College

by on June 04, 2018 5:59 PM

A permanent speed limit reduction is now in effect on a 1.4-mile stretch of Atherton Street in State College.

In May, borough council approved lowering the speed limit from 35 to 25 miles per hour between the intersection of South Atherton Street and West Prospect Avenue to the intersection of North Atherton Street and Mitchell Avenue at the State College/Ferguson Township line.

The change was effective and new signage was in place as of Monday.

Because Atherton Street is a state highway, the borough requested in March that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation conduct a speed reduction study from the north to south municipal lines.  

PennDOT's review of traffic operations, crash data and compliance with state and federal regulations determined that the reduction to 25 miles per hour was justified between West Mitchell Avenue and West Prospect Avenue. It did not, however, justify a reduction on South Atherton from West Prospect Avenue to South Allen Street.

Several council members requested that borough staff ask PennDOT to look again at the section that was not justified by the study.

Atherton Street has been the site of a number of vehicle-pedestrian crashes over the years, particularly at the northern end of the borough in the area of Park Avenue.

"This whole area of Atherton Street has been problematic for decades," Council President Evan Myers said in May. "Several people have been killed by vehicles walking across this area. I think this is a good first step but we should only regard it as a first step."

College Heights Association and the borough for years have advocated for safety improvements at the intersection of North Atherton Street and Park Avenue, and PennDOT has made some improvements by changing street markings near the intersection. 

But council members advocated for more changes, such as pedestrian crossing-only periods at some intersections. Council has also discussed a pedestrian control project between West Beaver Avenue and Railroad Avenue.

That safety project got a boost last month the borough was awarded $935,000 for the project through the state's Transportations Alternatives Set-Aside. 

State College received the funding "to improve pedestrian safety through sidewalk improvements, pedestrian fencing, street lights, street furniture and landscape features for traffic calming."

The work will not take place until after the current phase of PennDOT's North Atherton Street project, between Aaron Drive and Park Avenue, is completed in 2019.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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