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Traffic signal to be installed in Dravosburg near site of deadly crash involving school van

Traffic signal to be installed near site of deadly crash involving school van
Traffic signal to be installed near site of deadly crash involving school van 02:57

DRAVOSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- Nearly two months after a Serra Catholic High School student was killed in a crash in Dravosburg, leaders have decided to install a traffic signal near the site of the crash.

On Sept. 20, a Serra Catholic High School van was hit by another driver while trying to turn onto Richland Avenue from Third Street. Fifteen-year-old student Samantha Kalkbrenner was killed in the crash.

A 15-year-old Serra Catholic student was killed when a school van and another vehicle crashed in Dravosburg on Sept. 20, 2023.  (Photo: KDKA)

Since then, several steps have been taken to improve safety along that road, including an announcement on Wednesday that a new traffic light will be installed in May 2024.  

"In light of recent accidents, fatalities and ongoing safety issues in this area, local leadership and statewide transportation agencies came together to mobilize our joint resources to provide this community what they have requested and immediately need," said Sean Logan, Pennsylvania Turnpike commissioner, in a news release.

The traffic light will be at the intersection of Richland Avenue and Fifth Street after a traffic study was completed by PennDOT. 

"This study was completed after the left turn restrictions were implemented on Richland Avenue and the results of the study show that a traffic signal is warranted with the current traffic volumes," the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said in a news release. 

Since the accident, some left-hand turns are now illegal onto Richland Avenue, and drivers' speed is now being monitored.  

"We're in the process of extending the barrier to make some of the dangerous left turns that are now illegal also physically impossible," said state Representative Nick Pisciottano, who represents Dravosburg.  

"The installation of this traffic signal is a critical step in our ability to support the safety of our residents and motorists," state Senator Jim Brewster said in a news release. 

"We all know this is a dangerous, dangerous thing. You got to proceed with caution," said Levi Donaldson, who lives and works in Dravosburg.

"It's a shame that this had to happen for this to happen, but hopefully everything changes and people slow down," said Crystal Toner, who works at Italian Village Pizza off Richland Avenue.

Toner said she's seen multiple accidents and fatalities since starting her job at the pizza business eight years ago. She said adding a traffic light is a step in the right direction.

"It might be annoying, but I think it will save a lot of lives, a lot of accidents, a lot of just everything," Toner said.  

"It shouldn't have taken a fatality, but I'm glad something happened to where they're gonna make it a little bit safer," Donaldson said.

In the wake of the deadly crash, local leaders — including representatives from the Allegheny County Department of Public Works, PennDOT, Dravosburg Borough, and Rep. Pisciottano — had a meeting about safety changes.

Signs prohibiting left turns onto Richland Avenue in Dravosburg were installed following a deadly crash involving a Serra Catholic High School van in September. Credit: KDKA

The county also painted "slow" pavement markings on Richland Avenue north of the Mansfield Bridge and before the road's intersection with Third Street. There is also a new "speed limit 40" sign facing southbound traffic.   

Allegheny County Police said the deadly accident involving Kulkbrenner is ongoing and remains under investigation. So far, no charges have been filed. 


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