TOWANDA - The timing of the traffic light at the intersection of Main and Bridge streets in Towanda could be changed to better protect pedestrians, but the state Department of Transportation is warning that the change could increase traffic congestion on Main Street.

Traffic congestion on Main Street in Towanda and U.S. Route 6 in Wysox Township became a bigger issue after gas drilling began a few years ago in Bradford County, although the amount of traffic in the area has decreased significantly over the past year.

This summer, Towanda attorney Scott Pellinger wrote a letter to Towanda Borough, Bradford County and state officials, stating that two employees at his law firm have been struck at separate times while walking in a crosswalk at the intersection.

The intersection is unsafe, because when a pedestrian has a "walk" signal, traffic traveling parallel to the pedestrian continues to have a green light, Pellinger wrote.

Pellinger called for the light to be changed so that no motor vehicle traffic could proceed through the intersection when a pedestrian has a "walk" signal.

In response to Pellinger's letter, PennDOT District Executive Sandra Tosca wrote a letter back to him stating that it is "a common practice" to time traffic signals so that traffic can travel parallel to the pedestrian when the pedestrian has a "walk" signal.

Pedestrians themselves should use "extreme caution" when using a crosswalk and should check for oncoming and turning vehicles before proceeding across the roadway, she wrote.

Stopping all traffic when a walk sign is activated "has been known to increase congestion in locations where traffic volumes are elevated," Tosca wrote in her letter.

The Towanda Borough Council, which would need to approve any changes to the light, has referred the matter to Dawood Engineering Inc., which is the firm that is designing an upgrade of the borough's traffic lights to video-activated ones.

Dawood "will take a look at this issue," that was raised by Pellinger, Towanda Borough Manager Tom Fairchild Jr. said last week.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: