One positive thing from the tragic death of a Serra Catholic High School student in September will begin Thursday with the implementation of a traffic light in Dravosburg.

The Sept. 19 crash that killed sophomore Samantha Kalkbrenner — police say it occurred when a vehicle involved in a drag race struck the school van she was in — was the latest in a series of serious incidents at Fifth Street and Richland Avenue. The borough reached out to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which was scheduled to install a light there as part of a Mon-Fayette Expressway interchange, and with help from Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and others a temporary light will begin operation after an inspection Thursday.

“I want to acknowledge and thank the efforts of all the parties involved to get this done so quickly. From the turnpike accelerating their funding; to PennDOT quickly turning around their traffic study; to the County for installing new signage and dividers; and of course, Dravosburg Borough for passing the ordinances needed to make these intersections safer, every level of government worked together to get this done quickly,” state Rep. Nick Pisciottano, D-West Mifflin, said in a news release.

Construction on the section of the new toll road that includes the Dravosburg interchange isn’t expected to go out for bids until 2025, but officials moved up the traffic study needed for the new traffic light so a temporary one could be installed sooner. Technically, the new light will be in test mode for 30 days, but it will function as a regular traffic signal during that time.

“Working with local leadership and statewide transportation agencies, we were able to mobilize our joint resources to provide this community with what they requested and needed,” said Sean Logan, a member of the Turnpike Commission. “I’m proud of how our staff here at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission responded so quickly to alter our plans for this section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway project to construct this temporary traffic signal.”

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at