Thursday, May 28, 2020

Only One Intersection Fix Comes Out of Traffic Study

Nearly a year after a study of 18 troubled intersections in the greater Pottstown area was completed, the number of intersections likely to be upgraded is one.

The study was conducted by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission with an eye toward identifying some of the smaller-scale projects that could be undertaken by the participating municipalities for minimal cost.

During a review in February, regional planners selected two intersections from among the 18 selected as being worthy of further scrutiny in terms of implementing the recommended fixes.

During Wednesday night's meeting of the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee Montgomery County and PennDOT officials discussed proposed improvements to two intersections. 

But the complicated nature of the problems at the corner of Moser Road and East High Street proved to be too much for an easy fix.

Instead, the regional planners were told by county and PennDOT transportation officials that the transformation of the intersection of Middle Creek Road and Congo Road in Douglass (Mont.) Township would be the easiest to accomplish.

The intersection is expected to see a 20 percent increase in traffic by 2025, but that's not enough to warrant a traffic signal, said 

There have been three accidents at that corner between 2012 and 2017 and the study recommended the addition of a street light and a four-way stop there.

Because both roads are owned by the township, it would be easy to upgrade the intersection and would probably not cost more than $10,000, said David Adams, PennDOT District 6's traffic signals section manager.

"In fact that intersection is probably the easiest of all of them to upgrade," he said. Whether or not it will happen, is unclear. No Douglass township officials were on the virtual meeting. 

However, Matt Edmond, transportation planning section chief for the Montgomery County Planning Commission, said one third of the county fund created by implementing a $5 fee on all vehicle registrations has been set aside entirely for municipalities and could probably cover 80 percent of the cost of the upgrade.

As for the intersection of Moser Road and East High Street in Pottstown, that's a bit more complicated.

First off, East High Street is a state road, so PennDOT would be more involved. 

Secondly, most of the eight crashes that occurred there between 2012 and 2017 occurred in the westbound lane just past the intersection with Highland Avenue.

The best way to improve that intersection would be to have all traffic into and out of the Sunoco station located on the north side of East High Street be controlled by the traffic signal there.

But that is impractical for the business, given the amount of space available, and is nothing the government could require, Edmonds said.

While the prospect of a fix there is dimming, Marley Bice, the community planner from Montgomery County Planning Commission who works with the regional planners, reminded them that the DVRPC study now underway looks at the High Street corridor from the Berks County line to Lower Pottsgrove's border with Limerick.

"So perhaps we could revisit this as part of that study," Bice said.

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