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Chester County Press

Editorial: The avenue of inconsistency

02/28/2017 09:58AM ● By Richard Gaw
On a recent afternoon, the driver of a newer model, four-door sedan – let's call her Margaret – veers off of Route 1 northbound to the Toughkenamon exit that leads to Newark Road. She has a medical appointment in the Pike Creek beyond Hockessin area in less than a half hour, and she believes taking Newark Road would be not only be a more as-the-crow-flies route, it would also allow her to enjoy the scenic, rolling hills of southern Chester County.
She makes a right-hand turn onto Newark Road, and travels southbound, past farms, the New Garden Flying Field and through the intersection at the bottom of the hill that connects with Old Baltimore Pike – all the while observing the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit. She continues along at this pace until she crosses the Gap-Newport Road intersection and then, as if by magic, the speed markers change nebulously, frequently – nearly at every bend – from 35 to 30 to 40 and back again. It seems as if there is no rhyme or reason for their placement and their order. As Margaret drives, she is met by other drivers coming from the opposite direction, many of whom seem to her to regard these speed limits as friendly and unenforced suggestions. She's right; it's not just about speed signage. Several residents who live along Newark Road have layered their complaints to the new Southern Chester County Regional Police Department by saying that the road is not safe. They have reported excessive speeding and reckless disregard for the township residents who are raising families within a hair of the racetrack that the road has become.
As Margaret drives to her appointment, she is not only a confused motorist, but the latest casualty of Newark Road – New Garden Township's avenue of inconsistency – a victim of oversight that falls in the hands of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation [PennDOT] to repair, immediately.
There is hope for the future of Newark Road, however. The new police department, under the direction of chief Gerald Simpson, has completed a study of Newark Road's traffic flow, which concurs with what the local residents have been saying.  
Sgt. Joseph Greenwalt, who headed the study, suggested to the New Garden Board of Supervisors last week that they encourage PennDOT to establish Newark Road as 35-mile-per-hour zone from Route 41 southbound to the Delaware state line. Further, in order to quell excessive speeding along the road, he recommended the use of a speed monitoring signage device near the 300 block of Newark Road, that can indicate to drivers what speed they are driving. Greenwalt estimated that it would cost $3,500 for a battery-powered sign and the $4,200 for a solar-powered sign – small change for a township that is set to capitalize on the sale of its sewer system, to the tune of $29 million.
Like many country roads that connect with Route 1, Newark Road has become a tributary that connects its residents to schools, commerce, travel and work. While there continues to be attention given to explore ways of widening the road near the New Garden Flying Field -- largely for the purpose of attracting new businesses -- there is little emphasis on improving its southern end, largely thought to begin at the Route 41 intersection and end at the Broad Run Road intersection.
We strongly encourage the township's supervisors to invest in this signage, and work with PennDOT to create a consistent, 35-mile-per-hour speed limit over the course of that troublesome stretch. The primary mission of any township or municipality supervisor is to explore and implement ways to ensure the safety of the residents who elected them. Regarding the future of Newark Road, it is time for the New Garden board -- Steve Allaband, Richard Ayotte, Randy Geouque, Michael Loftus and chairman Pat Little -- to see that mission through.

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