Residents hear more on Ridge Road widening

Chadds Ford Township residents last night heard from a PennDOT representative some of the aspects of the controversial Pettinaro commercial development in Concord Township that calls for the widening of Ridge Road.

Fran Hanney addressed residents who packed the meeting room to standing room only. Most are concerned that the proposed widening will increase traffic on Ridge and nearby roads and potentially cause an increase in traffic accidents.

Hanney explained that, based on PennDOT's review of the proposed roadway changes, that traffic flow would improve and wait times through the intersection of Ridge and Route 202 would lessen.

The development, a retail shopping center — The Shops at Ridge Road — would have two right in/right out access points on southbound Route 202, while the main entrance would be on Ridge. Hanney explained the developer chose Ridge for the main entrance because the split on Route 202, along with the proximity to Ridge, would make turning left into the site from northbound traffic difficult and impeded traffic flow.

Also, he said, 202 southbound would be widened so there would be a dedicated right turn lane onto Ridge Road and two left turn lanes installed on the northbound side. There would also be three lanes on eastbound Ridge Road.

Hanney also said the plans call for the intersection itself to be realigned so Ridge Road and Springhill Farm Drive line up properly and are no longer offset. He explained that would allow for opposing left turns to happen at the same time without the need to split phase the traffic signal.

Removing the split phasing is what would allow for the shorter wait times to clear the intersection. Even during peak times, wait times could be reduced by 50 percent or more.

Residents remained skeptical, however.

Sheriden Black said she still thinks tractor-trailers would cause backups when they try to make the left into the development from Ridge Road because heavy eastbound traffic wouldn't allow for that turn. Other residents said they feared there would be more tractor-trailer traffic on Ring and Heyburn Roads.

In response to Black, Hanney said the extra eastbound lanes would prevent traffic from blocking left turns into the development.

As for more large rigs on the other roads, Hanney said that, should that type of traffic increase, the township could ask PennDOT to evaluate the situation and, if the department found that there was a problem, PennDOT could ban such truck traffic.

Hanney explained that while the residents' concerns are legitimate, PennDOT can't force Pettinaro to change the plans. He said that "safety is paramount" and that the department has found Pettinaro to be meeting its responsibilities to create a safe system. If there is a future problem, however, PennDOT can make them go back and re-evaluate.

He said the department has been scrupulous in critiquing and re-critiquing the proposal for safety.

In a related matter, the complaint Chadds Ford Township filed against Pettinaro, and Concord Township is being heard in Delaware County Court of Common Pleas 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 30.

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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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