If you are reading this editorial, there is a more-than-likely chance that sometime in the last several days, you have traveled on the Gap-Newport Pike, commonly known to the residents of Chester County as Route 41. Others, who curse its nearly constant bottleneck of traffic, have come to refer to the highway by monikers unprintable for this newspaper, and there are good reasons why. For the past several decades, Route 41 has not only served as a way to get drivers from Point A to Point B, it has become a lightning rod of criticism by residents, traffic engineers, politicians, business owners, land conservation groups and occasionally, the tenor of this ire has appeared on the editorial pages of local newspapers like this one. To its most severe critics, Route 41 is a killer of towns – several point to the village of Chatham for an example, where trucks slog endlessly past historical buildings – while others call it a crusty relic of a simpler time, a strip of road built for the sepia-toned life of Chester County that is now resigned to the pages of our region's history books. Much like the proverbial old nag rounding the bend while faster foes gallop past it, Route 41 will remain, for many, an un-winnable bet.
The truth is, however, that we need it, and now, thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), we can help steer the course of its destiny.
From Feb. 3 to Feb. 28, PennDOT is conducting an online survey that asks for your views about four troublesome intersections along Route 41, specifically those at Routes 841, White Horse Road, and at Routes 926 and 796. The results of these surveys will be assessed by PennDOT and shared with local community leaders as well as the citizens who use the road – and eventually, PennDOT representatives have said that the input they receive from the surveys will see its way into what will eventually become a re-design of the highway.
Before a shovel even hits the ground, PennDOT is sinking $6 million of federal money into construction activities, preliminary and environmental engineering, final design, as well as analysis from a leading engineering firm. That's a sizable hunk of cash by any stretch, let alone one for a project that will determine our quality of life for generations to come, but it's mere coinage when matched against the anticipated construction costs of such a project.
Your voice and the ten minutes of time you'll need to fill out a survey, however, won't cost millions of dollars, but the value of its input, and the potential measure of its impact, will nearly become priceless.
Fill out your survey today. Go to www.pa41.com. Hard copies of the survey are available at the Londonderry Township, 103 Daleville Road in Cochranville; and at the London Grove Township, 372 Rose Hill Road, in West Grove.