Township to include independent design into intersection improvement plans
By Richard Gaw
A design solution for the future of the Route 41-Route 841 intersection in the Village of Chatham, created by an independent firm, will be included into further discussions between London Grove Township, PennDOT officials and local residents.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation [PennDOT] has issued a preliminary analysis report on the intersection, based on discussions it had with township officials and input it received from local residents last year. From those meetings, PennDOT created ten possible reconstructive alternatives for the intersection. From those, PennDOT has decided to enter five of those intersection designs into future proceedings. Some of those designs offer the option of constructing a roundabout at the intersection.
In addition to the five concept plans, the township has also received an alternative engineering concept for the intersection, one developed by Mark Johnson of the Wisconsin-based MTJ Roundabout Engineering and introduced by S.A.V.E, a county-based environmental organization that promotes land use planning and conservation in Chester County. The MTJ design presents the idea of developing a roundabout at the intersection of Routes 41 and 841, one that minimizes impacts, maintains access from Route 41 to London Grove Road and improves the intersection of Pennock Lane and London Grove Road.
Supervisor Dave Connors told the supervisors that he has seen the MTJ roundabout design, and encouraged the board to consider including it with the five PennDOT options in future discussions with the public about the intersection.
"If a roundabout is going to be available option, it occurs to me that this alternative may be the least disruptive to the Village of Chatham," said Connors, who also suggested that the township schedule another meeting with PennDOT officials in order to encourage PennDOT to narrow its number of choices. He also suggested that the township schedule a town hall-type meeting in Chatham.
If there is any potential snafu in the MTJ design, it is seen in the spoke wheel of its configuration. Essentially, if the concept is ultimately decided on, it would involve the need to relocate an historic building in Chatham, located near the corner of Route 41 and London Grove Road. The building, called the Chatham House, is owned by Dixon Stroud, who told supervisors at the meeting that should the MTJ design be chosen, that he was open to the idea of moving the building.
"I looked at all the PennDOT alternatives, and I wasn't happy with any of them," Stroud said. "[Moving this building] would really help make this S.A.V.E. plan work."
Stroud said that he has another spot in the township where the building could be moved. He then gave a background of the building's origins, saying that it was originally used as a tavern between Lancaster and Wilmington. He purchased the building from a neighbor, and has rented it out from time to time. The building is currently vacant and is not in use, he said.
Supervisors then grappled with the question of where the money will come from, not just for the cost of moving the historic building, but what sources will end up paying for construction costs at the intersection.
"They won't mark the money until we get behind the solution," Connors said. "We need to get the process going and get to the solution so that we can advocate for money [from PennDOT]. Right now, the state's flush with transportation money, and we have $2 million in order to get this [project] kick-started."