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Chester County Press

Editorial: PennDOT's missing piece in Route 41 improvement plan

08/18/2015 03:49PM ● By Richard Gaw
In a news release dated Aug. 11, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation – PennDOT – announced that it will begin work this October on a three-month, $7.5 million project that will improve two structurally deficient bridges on Gap Newport Pike in Atglen Borough, West Fallowfield Township and West Sadsbury Township.

The construction will generally be concentrated on the bridges that cross over Valley Creek and Officers Run, and therefore, because there will be no lane-widening, it will allow PennDOT to expedite the project more aggressively. During that time, traffic will be detoured to through traffic between Route 10 and Route 30.

While residents in southern Chester County empathize with their friends from nearby Gap, Atglen and neighboring towns who face an autumn of re-routing and aggravation, there is the anticipation that when PennDOT's vision for Route 41 finds its way to Chatham – for repair to two troublesome intersections-- that the inconvenience residents in these towns will endure could very well enclose them in an insufferable clog of chaos.

Currently, there are four alternative scenarios listed for the way the Route 41- Route 926 intersection could look like after it is completed – and ten alternative plans for the Route 41-Route 841 intersection. PennDOT, in collaboration with Erdman, Anthony & Associates, recently compiled preliminary alternative analysis reports for both projects, complete with detailed information on potential environmental impacts, as well as possible traffic-calming solutions. These sketches are not just in-house, either; PennDOT has elicited the creativity and ideas of the general public through project needs questionnaires, public workshops and township meetings. Clearly, the driving force behind the concept to improve these trouble spots will be the very people who use these roads as vital thoroughfares, and for that, PennDOT is to be commended.

Yet, while each of these scenarios address current needs and offer possible solutions for the future, there is little ink in these reports that addresses how life in the Village of Chatham and surrounding towns will look like during the actual construction itself.

Eventually, although no one knows definitively when, PennDOT will arrive at a point when all of the preliminary designs, all of the pencil sharpening and all of the public input related to these two important intersections will be over, and construction will begin. We advise PennDOT to continue to maintain its open communication with residents of southern Chester County on these planned projects, and ask for their suggestions – well in advance of when construction begins – on how traffic can best reflow through these intersections.

You can not solve a problem by creating another problem.

You can not fix a bottleneck with another bottleneck.

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