Public invited to share ideas for intersection's future
By Richard L. Gaw
Following a detailed presentation to the London Grove Board of Supervisors on Sept. 3, two engineers set a date for a public open house to hear input from the general public about how to improve the intersection of Routes 41 and 841 in London Grove Township, which many locals believe has turned the Village of Chatham into a bottleneck of traffic, safety issues and general confusion.
The meeting, to which the general public is invited, will be on Oct. 20, from 4 to 9 p.m. at the London Grove Township Building on Rose Hill Road in West Grove. There will be representation from PennDOT, engineers and the London Grove Board of Supervisors at the meeting. State Sen. Andy Dinniman and Rep. John Lawrence will also be invited to the meeting.
PennDOT project manager Steven Fellin and Rob Nuss of the Erdman Anthony engineering firm shared the results of a study that explored the key problems facing the intersection, as well as the findings of a survey taken of local residents. The purpose of this project is to “provide a safe and efficient means of accommodating the regional movement of the people, goods and services, and to provide for local access connection to support the existing community and business in the Village,” Fellin said.
A questionnaire sent by PennDOT to residents had 363 responses, 11 percent of whom live in Chatham. Nuss said 39 percent of responders said that they avoid the intersection entirely, due to the heavy traffic volume and for safety issues. Fifty percent of the respondents to the survey said that it was a congested area, while 10 percent of the responses complained of excessive motor vehicle speed through town.
Fellin said that an 11-member safety team, made up of representatives from Londonderry and London Grove Township, S.A.V.E., the Chester County Planning Commission, PennDOT traffic and safety personnel, and State Rep. John Lawrence, was formed in order to observe how the intersection was functioning. The key results of their findings were:
1. The intersection of Routes 41 and 841 is confusing, heightened by the existence of multiple roadways that converge of the east side of Route 41 within the intersection.
2. Large vehicles are not able to negotiate the turning movements without driving over existing curbs and islands, particularly at southbound Route 41 and westbound Route 841.
3. Sixteen crashes have occurred at the intersection over the last five years, and seven of these accidents were angle/head-on collisions, one of which resulted in a fatality.
4. Traffic is predicted to operate on “Level Service E” on the Route 841 approaches to the intersection by 2035. [“Level Service A” is considered to be the best traffic scenario, while “Level Service F” is considered the worst traffic scenario.]
5. Over half of the 363 residents who responded to a PennDOT survey about the intersection revealed that they find it difficult to turn left onto Route 41 from Route 841, or cross the intersection from Route 41.
6. The lack of change in roadway characteristics of the intersection has resulted in 85 percent of the vehicles who drive through the village to exceeding 40 miles per hour.
7. Pedestrian accommodations within the village are limited.
Additional information that came out of the study revealed that the average speed going through the intersection was 42 miles per hour northbound through the intersection, and 39 miles per hour traveling southbound – all in a 35 miles-per-hour speed limit.
“We are getting some slowdown coming through town, perhaps by flashing lights and the towns setting, but again, it's too fast for town,” Nuss said.
These findings arrive on the heels of the township's mission to share the vision of the intersection with its residents, and to listen to their needs. On Feb. 11, 2014, the township held a 90-minute town hall forum at the Stillwater Presbyterian Church, which gave residents a platform to share their opinions on subjects as far ranging as the inclusion of roundabouts to re-purposed infrastructure to traffic calming measures.
The town forum also dovetailed with a 2013 letter of cooperation signed by representatives from four area townships and one borough, who gave a wish list of suggestions on how Route 41 may be improved, which included London Grove Township's request to include safety and traffic calming measures to Chatham at the intersection of Route 41 and Route 841. Addressed to Rep. Lawrence, Rep. Chris Ross, Sen. Dominic Pileggi and Sen. Dinniman and sent last July, the letter was signed by London Grove supervisor David Connors; Stephen Allaband of the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors; Bill Shore of the Avondale Borough Council; Richard Brown of the Londonderry Township Board of Supervisors; and Scudder Stevens of the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors.
The letter was response to The Chester County Planning Commission's (CCPC) request for input from all municipalities in the county as it prepares the 2013 Transportation Improvements Inventory (TII).
Fellin said that the public workshop on Oct. 20 will include several alternative ideas for the public to see, as well as give them an opportunity to sketch ideas they may have for the intersection.
“We want to roll up the sleeves, roll out maps and roll out tables, and answer questions,” Nuss said.
“Everyone is going to see these alternatives, and talk to us about what they like and do not like, so that we may come out of this with a good solution,” Fellin said.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.