Supervisors vote on loop road

With a unanimous vote by Chadds Ford Township supervisors, the fourth and final segment of the loop road system around the intersection of Routes 1 and 202 is on its way to becoming a reality.

Supervisors voted 3-0 during their Oct. 26 workshop to grant preliminary approval for the Hillman Drive extension. The applicant — The Henderson Group — must still go through the process of getting final approval, but Wednesday’s vote clears the way for that to happen.

As township solicitor Mike Maddren said, “Preliminary approval only approves the concept, not the details. That happens at final approval.”

Chuck Olivo, the engineer on the project, said it could be another year before final approval. Plans need to be fully engineered and reviewed by the Planning Commission first. After a recommendation from the commission, the plan then goes back to the supervisors for final approval before work can begin. Final plans must also meet the recommendations of PennDOT, the township engineer and the township land planner.

Mark Eisenhardt, vice president of Henderson, said the actual construction would take about 120 days. If that timetable for final approval and construction holds true, the road could be open for traffic in early to mid 2018.

Prior to Wednesday’s vote, Supervisors’ Chairman Frank Murphy echoed previous comments by Clark Hoffman, president of the Painters’ Crossing Condominium Association, that if Henderson didn’t do the job, PennDOT would.

He also said that input from the residents of the condominiums and The Estates at Chadds Ford “made this a better plan, something we can live with,” and added, “There’s a lot still left to be worked out…but this seems like the best we’re going to get.”

The work that needs to be done is for Henderson to come up with a fully engineered plan that meets a number of conditions. Among those conditions are the engineering an 8-foot high, 300-foot long sound-attenuating fence with landscaping that would reduce sound and light pollution reaching the eastern-most building at the condominiums.

Another condition, which came as a late wrinkle to be ironed out, is to determine the best way to calm traffic on Hillman Drive at its intersection with Evergreen Place, the lone access point to and from The Estates at Chads Ford.

The current proposal shows a roundabout to be installed at that intersection, but the new condition calls for the consideration of a raised intersection instead of the roundabout.

Which approach will be used will be made at a future meeting, possibly during the board’s November workshop. Supervisors want to get input from PennDOT and from the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Transportation Department.

A raised intersection — 3 to 6 inches high and with a four-way stop sign — would also change one of the other aspects of the design.

Currently, with the roundabout planned for Evergreen, traffic on Dickinson Drive would be prevented from turning left onto Hillman toward Route 202. That traffic would instead be required to turn right, then negotiate the roundabout and make a 360-degree turn before getting to the highway. There would be no turn restrictions should the raised intersection option be used.

Other parts of the proposal are unchanged. Traffic would be prevented from turning left from Dickinson onto southbound Route 1, and the intersections of Hillman at 1 and at 202 would be widened so that traffic going to those state roads would have three lanes, one lane each for left turns, right turns and straight through traffic.

Eisenhardt has said several times that Henderson would fund the cost of the project, that no tax money would be used. “It will be on our nickel,” he said.

Hillman Drive currently runs through The Henderson Group-owned Chadds Ford Business Campus from Route 202 — between William Bunch Auctions and the Goddard School — to just beyond Evergreen Place.

The extension would bring Hillman up beside Painters Crossing Condominiums and Brandywine Views Antiques (formerly known as the Dickinson building) where it would intersect with Route 1 across from Brandywine Drive where there’s a traffic light.

The loop road system has been discussed for more than 30 years. State Farm Drive, at the northeast side of the intersection in Concord Township, was the first loop segment completed.

Brandywine Drive, at the northwest section in Chadds Ford Township, was second. That was opened to the public after the township took dedication in 2003.

Applied Bank Boulevard, at the southeast of the intersection across from Hillman Drive, was opened last year as part of the Wegmans’ development.

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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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