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Chester County Press

Police recommend solutions for speed, traffic on Newark Road

02/28/2017 10:09AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

On Feb. 21, Gary Liska stood before the New Garden Board of Supervisors and gave them a brief summary of his professional career, which has required him to move several times.
He told them that of all of these places, the home where he lives with his family now – on the 300 block of Newark Road in the township – is by far the most dangerous of all of them.
“I say that with certainty,” he said.
Liska had come to the board meeting to speak on behalf of his neighbors, many of whom have complained that Newark Road is no longer a country road that  begins in Hockessin and ends just south of Coatesville. It has become a speedway of cars and trucks – an Autobahn for New Garden Township.
Last year, Liska took his complaint to Gerald Simpson, chief of police for the new Southern Chester County Regional Police Department, who put together a study in order to provide recommendations on how Newark Road can be improved.
Sgt. Joseph Greenwalt, who headed the study, told the supervisors that his first observation of Newark Road -- in particular, the expanse between Route 41 and Broad Run Road -- was that it is riddled with a confusing inconsistency of miles-per-hour signage, exacerbated by a high volume of traffic, dangerous curves and hidden driveways.
The speed limit in this portion of Newark Road changes three times in the quarter-mile distance between the 500 block and the 300 block, Greenwalt observed.
“If you go back to the area of Route 41 and Newark in the 700 block, it's start out as 45 miles per hour,” he said. “As you continue southbound and get into the 400 block, its slows down to 40 miles per hour. When you get into Mr. Liska's block, it drops down to 35 miles per hour. If you go all the way to the 100 block, as you near Delaware, it does just the opposite.
“In my opinion, to the people passing through, it provides them with a lot of inconsistencies, and it makes it very hard for us to enforce speed limits, because in a quarter mile, the speed limit changes three times.”
Greenwalt suggested that the supervisors encourage PennDOT to establish Newark Road as 35-mile-per-hour zone from Route 41 southbound to Route 7 in Hockessin. 
Greenwalt also recommended the purchase of a speed monitoring signage device near the 300 block of Newark Road, that can indicate to drivers what speed they are driving. He said that the advantage of the signage -- which are estimated at $3,500 for a battery-powered sign and the $4,200 for a solar-powered sign --  is that they can be moved to different locations along Newark Road.
“If we put it in the 400 block, and someone comes whipping down, sees the signage, and sees that they're driving 48 miles per hour in a 35-mile-an-hour zone, they're going to pump the brakes before they get to the 300 block,” he said.
A one-week traffic study conducted in 2016 by the New Garden Township police in reported that 34,000 vehicles drove past the 300 block of Newark Road during that time, and of that number, 7.8 percent exceeded the required speed, to the point where the township police could issue a speeding ticket.  The combined average speed of those vehicles was 43 miles per hour.
Simpson said that last year, the police engaged local residents in a discussion about the traffic along Newark Road, and many of their complaints also centered on the flip-flop of miles-per-hour signage along the road, the need for a stop sign at Broad Run Road and Newark Road.
"The matter of inconsistency is a question I have in relation to the townships that surround us," Simpson said. "It almost seems that when you get to our location, Newark Road certainly has the curves and gradings to it, which makes for interesting obstacles for motorists. I'm sure it was decided years ago, but there is no consistency to it.
"As you get up to Toughkenamon, the 25-mile-per hour markers make sense, for a densely- populated area with school buses and businesses, but you don't see the same on the southern end of Newark Road."
Simpson, who told the supervisors that the department will submit a full report of the Newark Road traffic study to the township soon, said that one of the top priorities of the new regional police department will be to address vehicle speeding throughout the township.
The supervisors recommended that township manager Tony Scheivert and Simpson contact PennDOT, in order to come up with a solution.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail