Route 1 lane widening plans presented by PennDOT
By J. Chambless
East Marlborough Township residents viewed and heard a report at the Sept. 9 Board of Supervisors meeting about the latest plans for widening Route 1.
Frank Eels of the Gannett Fleming engineering firm displayed a large map of the highway showing upcoming work from the intersection with Baltimore Pike near Walmart at the west end and its continuation in the east by Longwood Gardens. The changes have been in the works and approved since the early Walmart hearings more than a decade ago.
Eels, whose company represents the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said the roadway will be widened to three lanes in each direction, with construction starting early in 2020. He added that despite the work being carried on in each direction, drivers will still be able on get by on the two remaining lanes in both directions.
He also indicated that a sidewalk will be installed on the north, just off the highway, from the Onix Drive area to the entrance near Wendy’s. Additionally, drivers going east on Route 1 would still not be able to turn left onto Schoolhouse Road to access Walmart, but would have to travel farther to access the left turn.
Eels said that a lighted sign is included in the plans in the Wendy’s area. It will provide updated information to drivers in both directions, such as whether congestion or accidents are ahead.
This feature raised the ire of supervisor Julia Lacy, who asked Eels several times when it had been approved. When he replied that it was in the initial plans more than a decade ago, Lacy persisted in asking that the current board have the privilege of providing their input.
Supervisor Bruce Jameson said that if the matter was beyond the responsibility of the board and just in the hands of PennDOT, it would not be useful to continue the dialogue.
Early in the meeting, during public comment, residents from Walnut Road and West Locust Lane took part in extended expressions of frustration. On the subject of Walnut Road, residents said they were unhappy that the supervisors voted at the last meeting to relieve the TriM company of their need to undergo a conditional use hearing for a planned building expansion. TriM submitted a plan to add space for training, but several residents said they feared increased traffic if the company engaged in activities other than training.
Board Chairman John Sarro defended the board’s vote by saying that TriM would still have to abide by all zoning, environmental, stormwater and land use requirements. More importantly, he said training is very important for the safety of electrical workers, and he did not want to stand in the way of their progress.
Neighbors from West Locust Lane said cars are driving too fast on their street and they want something done about it. In response, Township Engineer Jerry Baker explained that municipalities could not arbitrarily install stop signs or take other measures that would have an impact on the township’s liability. Police Chief Robert Clarke likewise said he pulls over only drivers who are going more than 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Residents asked that he take that down to 10 miles an hour, or lower the speed limit.
The result of the conversation was the board approving $7,000 for a traffic study at that location.
In other business:
The board approved a revision in the impact fee schedule to increase the cost from $200 to $400 per unit.
The board also agreed to send the recently revised zoning ordinance to the county for review in concert with its Landscapes plan, while simultaneously permitting the board members to review the plan.