Loop road study underway

The meeting was called for the sake of transparency, but what became clear is that there’s nothing firm about plans for the last leg of the loop road system around the intersection of routes 1 and 202.

There was no definitive information from consultants representing the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, except that preliminary studies are underway while there’s no dedicated funding for anything beyond that.

Supervisor Frank Murphy opened the March 26 informational meeting saying the township wants to be clear and transparent, that it’s not trying to hide anything from residents. He hopes the meeting would be the first of many, he said.

The meeting concerned the status of the proposed southwest segment of the loop road, the hoped for (by some) piece that would connect Route 202 at Hillman Drive with Route 1 across from Brandywine Drive.

Two segments of the loop road system — State Farm and Brandywine drives — have been in use for years and the southeast leg will be built as part of the Wegmans’ development.

Matt Marquardt, an engineer from Urban Engineers, said the loop road preliminary study began in August 2013 and would take about two years to complete. At that point, a design plan would be presented, but the final design phase would take another two years before construction could begin. Construction would take another year. He estimated a 2018-2019 completion date.

In concept, Marquardt said, the 22-foot wide driveway beside Painters Crossing Condominiums would be widened to 36 feet, the same width as Hillman Drive. It could also include a sidewalk, but that would have to be discussed with the township and PennDOT.

A number of residents expressed their opinions. People from the condos and from the Estates at Chadds Ford are the residents most directly affected if the road is finally built. They all stressed the concern for safety and one condo resident even suggested using Dickinson Drive to connect to Route 1.

But residents from other parts of the township want PennDOT to take safety into account.

Webb Road resident Samantha Reiner, the township manager and roadmaster in Edgmont Township, urged designers to consider traffic calming devices and bike lanes and Planning Commission Chairman Craig Huffman called for possibly installing a traffic circle in front of Evergreen Drive, the lone access road for the Estates at Chadds Ford.

While the loop road system has been discussed since the 1970s, the push for completion is actually a fall back position since PennDOT dropped plans for widening Route 202 because of expense.

Consulting engineer Vito Genoa said the plan to widen the road from Matlack Street in West Chester to the Delaware state line would cost an estimated $300 million.

He said what the route 1 and 202 intersection really needs is a separated roadway — an over/under configuration — the loop is the only affordable option at this point.

PennDOT is also looking at a project for the intersection of routes 202 and 926, Genoa said.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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