Project could start in 2013 to make intersection of Lenape-Unionville, Wawaset and Rt. 52 safer
By Kelli Siehl, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com
POCOPSON — Finding your way around the township these days has been like circumventing a maze. Just when you’ve got it figured out, one route closes and another opens, reconfiguring the puzzle. Think of it as a brain teaser, an exercise designed to boost brain power, because it’s going continue for several more years at sites in and around the township.
At Monday’s Township Supervisors’ meeting, Consultant Project Manager for the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Paul Linahan, gave residents an update on the roundabout planned for the triangle which joins route 52 with Wawaset and Lenape-Unionville roads.
Supervisors’ Chair, Steve Conary gave those in attendance a brief history of the project which has been in the works for almost five years. Conary said, “those obtuse angle intersections make it difficult to see traffic; difficult to merge.” Supervisors said traffic along 52 has steadily increased since the expansion of the Chester County Prison and the addition of the County Juvenile Detention Center.
Conary explained that experts looked at the site and determined that traffic lights were not feasible for this type of three-legged intersection. In response, the township applied for and was given permission to spend federal demonstration dollars on a roundabout.
Supervisor Georgia Brutscher said money received from the county when the juvenile detention facility was approved is being used to pay for the plan’s engineering and design work.
Conary noted that the original design was initially rejected by PennDOT and after a long delay of reorganization; the state came back with suggestions.
According to Linahan, since the cost of the project will exceed the amount of federal funds supporting it, the state will find ways to offset any additional costs as long as the township adheres to several state controls, first and foremost being the preservation of the existing bridge along route 52, just south of the proposed site.
Linahan stated that the primary reason PennDOT has not approved the plan is concern over the headlight sight distance required while traveling along 52 North prior to entering the round-a-bout, “they say you can’t see far enough ahead for a 45 mph speed.” He stressed that the roundabout “is only going to be 20 mph” and felt confident that once further information was passed along to the state, the design would be acceptable and the final design process would begin.
Township residents questioned what additional measures would be taken to alleviate the blind spot that exists when entering the area from the south. Linahan said, “Lots of extra things can be done…rumble strips, flashing lights above advance signs, lighting the roundabout or reflector strips which collectively will bring awareness to people that something’s coming up.”
If plans go as scheduled, construction would begin in the spring of 2013 and take approximately six months to complete. Road closures would take place in three stages; with the final stage closing the entire area to finish the project. Linahan said the final stage would most likely occur during the summer, to coincide with the school district’s summer break.
In the meantime, Conary advised residents that a left turning lane from southbound 52 onto Pocopson Road should be completed by the end of next summer. Conary said this would help to alleviate the back-up at this intersection when commuters and buses are travelling to Pocopson Elementary School – especially once traffic is converted away from route 926 during replacement of the Brandywine Creek bridge. That replacement is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2014 and will take at least two years to complete.
If plans for the round-a-bout are not approved by the end of 2012, the project would have to be pushed off until after the 926 bridge replacement, perhaps in 2017 or beyond.