Residents renew request to cut limit in Unionville Village area from 35 MPH to 25 MPH, but PennDOT has final say
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Slow down and just maybe, just maybe, someone in Harrisburg will hear you.
That was the message members of the township’s Board of Supervisors gave to residents of the Unionville Village area last night, after they requested the board consider lowering the speed limit on Route 82 from the current 35 to 25 MPH.
Unfortunately, supervisors said, changing the speed limit on the roadway isn’t that easy — it requires the approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), which in turn, they said, based its speed limit decisions on how people currently drive on the road.
Township Manager Jane Lazlo said that PennDOT sets speeds based on the 85th percentile of traffic speed, essentially how motorists currently use the roadway. Currently, with the speed set at 35, she said, most drivers seem to be at or slightly above that speed right now, which puts the township in something of a Catch-22 situation in terms of seeking a reduction.
Jack Greenwood, a local resident who has long championed lower speeds and weight reductions along the roadway — argued during the meeting that speeds in the village area (roughly from Unionville Elementary to just past the Unionville Recreation Association complex along Route 82) are a hazard for local pedestrians and motorists, while excessive truck traffic is damaging the historic homes along the roadway, especially near Route 162.
Supervisors made it clear they were sympathetic and would continue to try to work with PennDOT — noting it took many years of effort to get approval for the four-way stop signs now at Routes 82 and 162 and speed reductions on Route 82 between US-1 and Route 926 — but that there were limits as to what they could do.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the authority to change it,” Board of Supervisors chair Cuyler Walker said. He agreed to take the matter up again with State Representative Chris Ross, but suggested that having local residents speak to Ross might be even more effective.
Lazlo then suggested that local drivers could have an influence — by driving slower and as a result, forcing other traffic through the area to drive more slowly. Plus, she said, if local drivers are able to bring the aggregate speed down, the next next PennDOT speed survey might generate numbers closer to what would be needed for a speed reduction.
“Slow down, go 25,” she said. “Get your neighbors to do it, as well.”
Supervisor Richard Hannum, who lives in the immediate area, applauded any effort to make the roadway safer. He said that when out walking along the sidewalk near the URA complex, he regular fears for the safety of his kids because of traffic speeds.
“I agree that traffic goes way too fast,” he said. “As neighbors, we agree (something should be done) — if we can figure out a way to get them (PennDOT) to listen.”
Greenwood renewed his request for lowered weights — saying he though a five-ton limit was about right — but was reminded that the township agreed not to change weight restrictions when it took back the roadway from PennDOT.