Next loop road decision pending

The next in a series of decisions regarding the Hillman Drive extension could come this month.

Chadds Ford Township supervisors in October granted preliminary approval for that fourth and final leg of the loop road system around the intersection of Routes 1 and 202, but wanted to consider an option of having either a roundabout or a raised intersection at Hillman and Evergreen Place.

They held a special afternoon meeting on Dec. 7 to get input for that consideration from PennDOT and from the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Transportation Department.

While there was no decision made at the time, Supervisors’ Chairman Frank Murphy later said the board could make the decision during the Dec. 28 work session.

Hillman Drive runs through The Chadds Ford Business Campus, which is owned by The Henderson Group. Henderson is looking to extend the road from where it stops in the middle if the campus to Route 1, and would fund the project itself.

But not everyone likes the idea. Evergreen Place is the only access road for The Estates at Chadds Ford. Residents there have expressed opposition from the beginning of talks.

While they lost the battle to stop the project, they did get supervisors to consider the raised intersection with a four-way stop, something residents thought would be better than the roundabout Henderson proposed.

A roundabout to control traffic flow is proposed for the intersection of Evergreen Place and Hillman Drive. Residents of the Estates at Chadds Ford fear the circle would cause a traffic jam and pose a problem for them getting into and out of their development. Evergreen Place is their only pint of ingress and egress.

Chadds Ford Township supervisors will decide whether to have a roundabout (shown) or a raised intersection with a four-way stop at the intersection of Hillman Drive and Evergreen Place.

However, Fran Hanney from PennDOT, and Marilyn Causey from the school district, told the board during the special meeting that a roundabout is preferable.

Causey said roundabouts are safer for school buses than four-stop intersections. She said buses are more likely to get rear-ended at stop signs at standard intersections.

She and Hanney both said that drivers only have to look to their left for oncoming traffic when entering a roundabout, while they have to look in all directions when approaching a standard intersection.

Hanney added that roundabouts are safer for pedestrians for the same reason.

The limiting issue for roundabouts, according to Causey, is their size. They need to be large enough to accommodate a 40-foot long, 81-passenger school bus.

Should the township decide on the roundabout, township engineer Mike Schneider would determine the size, according to the approval given in October.

When Schneider said the roundabout would be of a proper size, Causey responded by saying, “If that’s so, we can support the roundabout because they’re safer than stop intersections.”

During the discussion, questions were raised regarding speed through a roundabout and whether or not traffic would backup.

Murphy said the speed limit on Hillman would be 25 mph and Hanney said the average speed through the roundabout would be 17 to 23 mph.

Hanney also said that heavy traffic along Hillman could cause a back up on Evergreen, but it would be no worse than at a stop intersection. In most cases, the wait time would be shorter. As a general rule, he said, roundabouts are better at keeping traffic flowing.

“In and out are three times as quick…Roundabouts are way more efficient and they are safe,” Hanney said.

Once the board decides which type of intersection to use, Henderson would have to submit, and get final approval for, a fully engineered plan.

Mark Eisenhardt, vice president of Henderson said in October, construction would take about 120 days. If Henderson gets final approval by the end of 2017, the loop road could be open in early to mid 2018.

Other business

• During the regular monthly meeting Wednesday night, supervisors passed the 2017 budget. It’s a balanced budget with no tax increase. Revenues and expenses are expected to be $1.06 million.

•A special meeting is planned for Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. for a discussion on the commercial development of the Pettinaro property at Route 202 and Ridge Road. While the property is in Concord Township, it abuts Chadds Ford Township and will impact traffic.
Concord Township approved the plan in 2009. Dominic A. Pileggi, Concord’s supervisors’ chairman and owner of Olde Ridge Village, across the street from the property in question, said that while approval was granted in 2009, it remains in effect until 2019.

• Chadds Ford Township will hold its annual Volunteer Appreciation Reception and Open House at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16 in the municipal building.

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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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