MOUNT LEBANON (KDKA) — Heralded when it first opened last Wednesday, already the new Fresh Market grocery store is catching flack.
The problem is the traffic jam it’s creating at one of Mount Lebanon’s busiest intersections and on the Route 19 commuter corridor. Angry drivers are now wondering if any consideration was given to the impact the store was going to have on traffic.
Vehicles can be seen lined up on Gilkeson Road, Route 19 and Connor Road just trying to get into the parking lot. The mess has more than one driver grumbling.
“Every single day since it opened it’s been nothing but a traffic nightmare,” said one driver.
“It’s a traffic mess. This market is in a bad location,” added another motorist.
But actually, PennDOT likes the location.
“We’re getting new businesses in and we’re redeveloping existing sites,” Todd Kravits, P.E., PennDOT District 11 traffic engineer, said.
“It’s not good. It was already a bad intersection, now it’s worse,” a driver said. “It doesn’t appear anyone put any thought into it.”
Well actually, there was a lot of thought.
Fresh Market did a traffic study estimating the store would draw an additional 350 cars a day to Connor Road. After the newness rush wears off, Mount Lebanon and PennDOT approved a few minor alterations.
“They had to lengthen the left turn lane from Conner Road onto Route 19, consolidate some driveways to provide better access in and out of the site and re-time some traffic signals,” said Kravits.
The Fresh Market parking lot has one way in and out.
“Maybe an on-ramp into the parking lot from over there would have been good,” said one driver.
PennDOT agrees, but technical issues prevented a ramp off northbound 19. For now, a police officer is doing the best he can to keep folks moving in and out, and the parking lot is often at a standstill.
“It’s a little bit of a mess; not exactly ideal,” said Nicki Santo, of Upper St. Clair. “I don’t know if I’d do my grocery shopping for that reason here.”
From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily and all day Saturday leaving the parking lot – it’s a right turn only.
“So that’s going to force everyone to go through the Mount Lebanon neighborhood up here, I don’t think people are going to like that,” said Susan Sander, of Mount Lebanon, said.
There is some hope that when the Jos. A. Bank Clothiers’ parking lot is done it will help alleviate some of the problems in the Fresh Market parking lot, but that’s just the lot and does nothing for the road, which PennDOT says it will continue to study.