Rt. 52 roundabout plan makes progress

Construction won’t start before 2014, but PennDOT signs off on new design

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Plans to replace this dangerous intersection where Rt. 52 meets Unionville-Lenape Road and Wawaset Road with a roundabout are moving forward, although it's unlikely construction will happen before 2014.

POCOPSON — It’s coming. Really.

The long-discussed and proposed roundabout which would replace the dangerous triangle intersection of Lenape Road, Unionville-Lenape Road and Wawaset Road is inching closer to being reality as township officials and its outside design firm appear to have found a workable design for the revision of the intersection.

Although an earlier design was rejected by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the township, working with design consultants Gannett-Fleming have reworked the proposal so that the bridge on Rt. 52 near the intersection will not need to be replaced, reducing both the cost and scope of the project. PennDOT has signed off on the new plan, which means it’s full speed ahead for the long-discussed project, according to Board of Supervisors chair Steve Conary.

Of course, “full speed ahead” in terms of state projects generally means within a decade — and the roundabout project won’t get underway until replacement of the bridge on Rt. 926 connecting the township with Birmingham is completed. That project, which has literally been on the drawing board for more than a decade, is currently slated for the 2012-13 timeframe, township officials say. That means construction work on the roundabout project won’t likely happen before 2014. And with a $4 to $5 billion state budget deficit looming, it’s possible that cuts to PennDOT’s budget could push both projects back again.

The good news is that funds for the design are still available from a federal grant awarded to the township, with the constructing being funded by the state — when it happens.

A similarly treacherous intersection on Rt. 82 in East Marlborough at Doe Run has won praise and awards after the installation of a roundabout there, although local residents needed some time to get used to it. The hope is that a roundabout design will make the intersection safer — one complicated by three roads meeting, plus the entrance to the Pocopson Home.

Also, the board of supervisors voted to give preliminary approval to the 2011 municipal budget. A formal public hearing will be held Dec. 13 before the supervisors take a final vote on the budget. Although the numbers are preliminary, the budget calls for raising $371,900 from real estate taxes, down nearly $40,000 from the 2008 numbers due to reassessments and drops in value caused by the economic downturn. The township is only projecting $76,000 in transfer tax — in 2008, the township took in $262,340 — again because homes are not selling and those that do are at lower prices.

To make up for the loss of more than $200,000 in revenue, the township voted earlier this year to institute an earned income tax. The budget calls for that to raise $130,000. The rest of the shortfall is being made up through spending cuts and use of existing surpluses.

While the real estate tax will not increase, the EIT represents an increase for those working.

In other township news, the supervisors voted to cancel their Dec. 27 meeting.

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