Traffic engineer questioned in hearing

The latest session in the conditional use hearing for Toll Bros. planned development of Crebilly Farm was a wrap-up of questioning for the Westtown Township traffic engineer. Organizations and individuals with party status and township supervisors asked Al Federico a variety of questions to clarify his and other previous testimony.

During the questioning, Federico clarified the anticipated number of morning drivetime trips out of the proposed 319-home development. Based on contemporary engineering standards, there would be an estimated 151 trips per hour from 7 to 9 a.m., or 352 during that two-hour window.

He said Toll's traffic engineer used the correct standard when she made her estimate but acknowledged some confusion or misinterpretation of her initial testimony. He said that when she said there would be 151 trips, she meant 151 per hour.

Federico also said the traffic plan is consistent with the township's comprehensive plan but that more work needs to be done to mitigate the expected heavier traffic volume at Routes 926 and 202.

Other questions concerned using traffic calming devices on W. Pleasant Grove Road, the northern boundary of the 320-plus acre property. It's been estimated that the road would need widening by about four feet.

Resident Thomas Rockwood asked a series of questions, ranging from speed limit changes to speed humps.

Federico said he does not anticipate an increase in W. Pleasant Grove Road's speed limit, adding that he doesn't think the widening would act as an invitation for motorists to drive faster on that road.

In response to Rockwood's question about traffic calming devices to keep motorists driving within the current legal speed limit, Federico said there have been recommendations to improve safety.

"To date, the applicant has presented a concept with a couple of speed humps. I'm advocating for a roundabout at the connector road intersection with W. Pleasant Grove Road," Federico said.

He re-emphasized that the widening of the road would not invite faster driving.

Supervisor Dick Pomerantz asked Federico whether Toll had made any assumptions about traffic that the board should consider.

After a long pause, Federico said there might have been some assumptions made regarding the collector road, some general assumptions about the timing of trip generation, and some about pedestrian traffic.

Pomerantz also asked about curvatures on some of the internal roads, how they curve left or right, and rise and fall. Federico said it's not good to combine sharper curves with upgrades because of reduced sightlines.

"It's considered undesirable design practice to combine sharp horizontal and vertical curves together. We have standards for horizontal curvature, so cars don't fly off the side of the road. We have standards for vertical curvature so people can see. You've got minimums and maximums, and you try not to put the two minimums together because that has a compounding effect on safety," Federico said.

During further questioning from Pomerantz, Federico said he prefers full roundabouts rather than the smaller ones and likes elongated speed humps rather than the shorter, stubbier types.

He explained that the shorter humps discourage traffic. "The elongated speed humps," he said, "are longer along the center of the road. What that does is allow vehicles to travel over it at higher rates of speed before they start getting a discomfort that's usually associated with a speed hump."

Federico also said he would like to see access from the Westminster Presbyterian Church parking lot to the collector road — which connects W. Pleasant Grove Road and Route 926 — rather than have the church traffic exit onto W. Pleasant Grove.

Another question led to a discussion about roundabout sizes.

"A full roundabout is the preferable, safer alternative and that it is feasible," he said.

Federico explained that vehicles have to circulate around a full roundabout instead of a smaller one where vehicles can cross over it. He has previously recommended a full roundabout at the intersection of the collector road and W. Pleasant Grove Road.

The next hearing is set for 6 p.m. on April 21 and is expected to go three hours until 9 p.m. Another hearing is also scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 26.

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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