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Letters pressure PennDOT for remedy at intersection used by Amish families

07/12/2017 07:50AM ● Published by J. Chambless

The farm recently purchased by the Stoltzfus family is bisected by Appleton Road, and the family crosses the road several times a day from the home (on the right) to the barn.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

In response to longtime community concerns about the intersection of Appleton and Strickerville roads in Franklin Township, Rep. John Lawrence and Sen. Andy Dinniman have sent letters to PennDOT to request special consideration for the trouble spot.

Three Amish families are now farming the 108-acre property surrounding the intersection, and family members, as well as horse-drawn wagons, must cross the intersection several times each day. Traffic moving north to south on Appleton Road does not stop. Traffic on Strickerville does have to stop, but motorists often assume that the intersection is a four-way stop.

At their June 21 meeting, The Franklin Township Board of Supervisors heard from seven township residents who said several near-accidents and the presence of slow-moving vehicles in the roadway are creating a compelling reason to install a four-way stop.

The township has unsuccessfully tried to get the intersection turned into a four-way stop several times. PennDOT representatives have responded that there aren’t enough reportable accidents to warrant a four-way stop, and State Police officers have reported that the sight distance is adequate on the road.

The property has been farmed for years, but the Amish families working on the property are the focus of concern, particularly from neighbor and former township supervisor Nan Latimer, who fears that the young family members, buggies and animals crossing the roadway will be struck by the heavy traffic on the road, which has become a commuter shortcut.

In response to the ongoing situation, board chairman John Auerbach announced at the meeting that he has started a “Community Call to Action.” On June 23, Rep. John Lawrence sent a letter to PennDOT district executive Kenneth McClain, asking for reconsideration of the intersection. “I strongly recommend the installation of a four-way stop, with stop-line pavement markings, at this intersection,” Lawrence wrote, citing the large barn that partially obstructs sight lines on Strickerville Road, requiring motorists to edge into the intersection to see clearly.

Lawrence also cited the 40-mph speed limit on Appleton Road, which is frequently ignored by motorists. “The intersection has recently seen a dramatic increase in pedestrian crossings,” Lawrence wrote. “I anticipate milk trucks and other large agricultural vehicles coming through this intersection in greater numbers than in the past.”

Lawrence said that when he was in high school, one of his neighbors was killed in a crash at the intersection. “I am not sure if this fatality shows up in the current statistics utilized by PennDOT,” Lawrence wrote, “however, it does show that this intersection has been an issue for a long time. … I strongly believe a four-way stop is not only appropriate, but necessary.”

Sen. Dinniman, in his letter to McClain, wrote, “A four-way stop will significantly aide the safety and welfare of not only those working near this intersection, but also community members who utilize this popular corridor daily.”

Auerbach wrote to McClain that, “A White Clay Trail System is being constructed south of the intersection and will be connected along Appleton Road to the existing Ford Farm Trail System north of the intersection. This will increase pedestrian, bicycle and horseback-riding traffic through the intersection.

“I have been a supervisor for almost six years, and over this period, many township residents have expressed concern about traffic safety at this intersection,” Auerbach added. “My request to you is to give serious consideration to installing a four-way stop traffic control system at the intersection. Additionally, crosswalks are appropriate for the pedestrian/bicycle traffic.”

During a phone call with the Chester County Press, Auerbach said that the township is awaiting PennDOT response to the letters, but that further action – and the initiation of an online petition – is still being planned.

For updated information on the township, visit www.franklintownship.us.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.


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