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Chester County Press

Police chief suggests speed humps to slow traffic

06/25/2014 10:43AM ● By Acl

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

At a May meeting at the New Garden Township Building, a Landenberg couple shared their concern with the New Garden Board of Supervisors about speeding in the township development where they live. In the lobby afterward, the couple continued their conversation with Police Chief Gerald Simpson, a talk that led Simpson to set about the task of not only making township roads safer, but changing the way traffic safety is looked at. 

The next day, he read an article about Vision Zero, a plan introduced in Sweden and now used in New York City, which approaches street safety not by the standards of violations and punitive measures, but by incorporating new street designs to improve safety, encourage public outreach, and improve communications between the public and law enforcement.

As a result, New York City now has a sweeping legislative agenda that has led to increased penalties for dangerous drivers. Traffic fatalities in the city have fallen significantly, from 701 in 1990 to 381 in 2000, to an all-time low of 249 in 2011, and the city has become nationally and internationally recognized as an innovator in safe street designs.

In a presentation made to the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors on June 23, Simpson said that Vision Zero takes human error into account, and by designing the developments and roads that allow for human fallibility, the safety burden falls on the design, not the residents. 

With this in mind, the first objective to address in the township, Simpson said, is slowing the drivers down, particularly in well-traveled developments.

“If you are hit by a car going 25 miles an hour, you stand a 95 percent chance of living,” he said. “At 30 miles an hour, you stand around a 56 percent chance of living, and at 40 miles an hour, about 15 percent.”

A preventive measure that could slow speeding vehicles, and one that was suggested to Simpson by the couple, would be adding speed humps at selected spots throughout the township. 

Simpson showed photographs of various speed hump devices, which he said cost between $2,500 and $5,000 each. The devices are made of extremely durable recycled rubber, are highly visible, and can be moved fairly easily. 

“It's money well spent, because it allows the township to selectively put these types of devices down, which have been proven to slow traffic down to the 15- to 20-mile-per-hour speed limit,” Simpson said. “This is a chronic issue, not just an issue in our community of Landenberg. This is something we need to think about as we go forward and become more densely populated. We can't put them along Baltimore Pike, but we can place them in some of our communities that are densely populated, where you have a lot of people, whether they're young or old, walking around enjoying their evening while cars are flying by.”

Simpson told the supervisors that the firearms practice shooting range, located near the New Garden Flying Field, is 95 percent completed, and is expected to be ready by July 15. It will be used for training by the New Garden Township Police Department, as well as the police units in Parkesburg, Kennett Square Borough and Oxford. 

Simpson also introduced “Viva tu Vida,” a public event that will be held on Sept. 27 in Kennett Square that is being organized to strengthen relations between local law enforcement and the Hispanic community in the southern Chester County area. Simpson said that the event, which will include athletic events and opportunities for social connection between families and police, will take place at Kennett High School or at Anson B. Nixon Park.

The board approved a motion to have the New Garden Township Police Department join the emergency response team of Chester County, which Chief Simpson said will better equip the department in case emergency intervention is needed. 

In other township business, the supervisors gave approval for several road paving projects in the township, which total more than $500,000. They approved $167,192 for Penn Green Road; $112,210 for New Garden Road; $91,248 for Bucktoe Road; $73,040 for Sharp Road; and $4,000 for the construction of an additional curb in the township. 

The board also approved the purchase of a 2015 Ford Super Duty F-350 truck, which will be used by the township's Public Works Department. Listed at a base price of $40,750, the truck will include several options, which will give it a value of $52,000.

The board also agreed that the township will change its health care provider for all township employees, from Aetna to Independence Blue Cross, based on a recommendation by interim township manager Spence Andress. Changing its health care provider is expected to save the township $81,000 per year.

Frank Manfredi, of Manfredi Cold Storage on West Baltimore Pike, introduced a design for his business property to the supervisors. The design consolidates the parking on the property,  provides emergency access and increases flexibility of vehicle traffic to and from the business. Manfredi was praised by the supervisors for working with the township and its Planning Commission in addressing all zoning regulations with regard to the design.