John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
22 November 2021 Meet Mack Monday Meeting Summary

The following is a summary of the discussions - including audio snippets - at the November 22, 2021, Meet Mack Monday Zoom meeting. Fifteen (15) Newtown Township residents attended this meeting.

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Traffic and Pedestrian Safety

At the November 10, 2021, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Police Chief John Hearn gave some details regarding an October 22, 2021, serious accident involving a pedestrian near the North Sycamore Street/Silo Drive Intersection. Residents on Nextdoor have started a discussion for how to make this area safer for drivers and pedestrians (“Silo Drive & North Sycamore: A Dangerous Intersection”).

There must be a way to improve sight visibility for drivers on Silo Drive AND enhance pedestrian safety on N. Sycamore Street. I updated participants regarding traffic and pedestrian safety issues at this location and summarized the comments and suggestions of Police Chief Hearn (see below). This was followed by a lively discussion that included several ideas for mitigating the danger to both pedestrians and drivers. [See the end of this post for suggestions from a traffic engineer resident of Newtown]. Listen to the discussion:

Mack's Newtown Voice · Pedestrian & Traffic Safety at N Sycamore St & Silo Dr

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Police Chief Hearn's Comments to Supervisors

Chief Hearn informed BOS members that he met with Carly Mannon* from TMA (Traffic Management Association) of Bucks County on Monday, November 15, 2021, and together they conducted an evaluation of the Sycamore Street corridor regarding pedestrian safety. He reported a summary of the meeting:

"On Monday, Nov 15th, we conducted an evaluation on the Sycamore Street corridor regarding pedestrian safety due to recent incidents. We rode out to the area and conducted a survey of the area to determine what improvements could be initiated other than those that were already in place or in the process. Carly agreed and also suggested the following same enhancements;

  • ALL crosswalks be re-stripped (From Durham to Chandler Hall) as many of the white lines have deteriorated and are no longer visible. 
  • The double yellow line be re-stripped (same locations) for the same reasons.
  • The discolored paving from previous repairs to be top coated (if possible) to match the color of the roadway. (Between Durham & Silo)
  • Repair of small pothole at the Durham Street south crosswalk. 
  • Lighting and metal signs were sufficient to keep the desired aesthetics and warn operators of pedestrian crosswalks.

“Carly and I agreed education was the proper course of action (since I do not want to cite local residents for "jaywalking"), and we are planning that push for the business association (possibly using officers with the donated bicycles if staffing and funding permits) and Carly will be working on the Penndot supplied material. I will also be coordinating with the NBA for Carly to present to their association to educate store/business owners on keeping their customers safe.

“Carly understood our lack of funding streams for additional lighting and she was asked to try and determine if she could get us for "free"; 4 - 6 "State law - Yield to pedestrians" signage (see left) for the center of Sycamore Street to be placed strategically along the business strip at crosswalks. (Retail costs are approximately $400 per sign). No promises but it will be attempted.

[NOTE: There was a sign at this location in July 2018 (see here). What happened to it?]

“Aggressive driving grant funding was obtained from the County for targeted enforcement initiatives in Newtown Township and Sycamore Street will be included in this effort over the next week.

“Unfortunately, many of the public tends to cross the street where they want, when they want, and how they want regardless of crosswalks or signage. We will continue to push the educational piece for the safety of our residents.”

My response: “I have also received complaints from drivers exiting Silo Dr onto N Sycamore regarding sight problems - being able to see cars on N Sycamore approaching from the Durham Rd direction. I have had this problem MANY times myself and I believe there was a recent hit-and-run car accident that may have been due to that problem. This is not just about pedestrians. If in your further communications with Ms. Mannon if you can get some ideas regarding how to mitigate that problem, it would be much appreciated.”

*Carly Mannon manages the County of Bucks Emergency Services Training Center headquartered at the at 1760 South Easton Road in Doylestown. She can be reached at carly@bctma.com or 267-895-5186. Please feel free to contact her with any questions.

Arcadia Traffic Update: Arcadia’s Highway Occupancy Application #148702. Review of PennDOT Response Letter.

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LED Street Light Feasibility Study

Supervisor Mack updated residents regarding the "free" LED streetlight feasibility study that the township requested. Resident Jan Filios - member of the Newtown Environmental Advisory Council - and Supervisor-elect Elen Snyder were surprised that Township Manager Micah Lewis said that the "kick-off" meeting "quickly took a turn toward budgeting, and what the Township had allocated toward Phases II (design) and Phase III (construction) next year." In other words, it sounded like there would be no feasibility study unless funding was included in the 2022 budget. Listen to the discussion:

Mack's Newtown Voice · LED Streetlight Discussion at November MMM Meeting

Followup: I tried to get a better understanding of what happened at the "kick-off" meeting from the Township Engineer at the November 23, 2021, BOS meeting, but Chairman Calabro refused to  allow this. See the APPENDIX (page 5) of my "23 November 2021 BOS Meeting Notes" for details about the meeting. 

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Hybrid BOS Meeting Discussion

Supervisor Mack brought up the issue of Hybrid Public Board of Supervisors (BOS) meetings. Resident Terry Christensen spoke up in favor of this and Supervisor-elect Elen Snyder vowed to "make it happen." Mack also suggested that the township's audio/visual equipment needed to be updated. Sources of funding for these improvements were discussed as well. Listen to the conversation:

Mack's Newtown Voice · Hybrid BOS Meetings Discussed at November 2021 MMM Meeting

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Updates on Other Issues

  • 2022 Budget - The 2022 Preliminary Budget has been "hung," which means it is available to the public. Review BOS discussion at Nov 10 meeting & my recommendations for cuts to spending.
  • Toll Bros Settlement - a new plan has been submitted to the township. This new plan specifies access ONLY via North Drive and does NOT include any access via Municipal Drive.
Toll Bros North Drive Access Only Plan

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A Traffic Engineer's Take on N Sycamore St Safety

Comments via email by Newtown resident Tim Szwedo, P.E., P.P. | Senior Project Engineer | ARORA and ASSOCIATES, P.C.

John,

I read with interest your recent e mail concerning a pedestrian crash and pedestrian safety on the North Sycamore Street at Silo Drive. A number of years ago as a member of the Township Traffic Committee I presented to the BOS options for consideration to enhance pedestrian safety in this area which included the following:

  • Retain 35 MPH  or lower the speed limit to 30 MPH from the Bypass [Durham Rd] to the traffic signal at the 7-11, Richboro Road.
  • The roadway context changes at this point and there is more pedestrian activity, therefore the posted speed limit should be lowered to 25 MPH from Richboro Road -Centre Street to Goodnoes Corner traffic signal which is the terminus of  Township jurisdiction of Sycamore Street.
  • Petition PennDOT to lower the speed limit on Route 532 coming into town from Linton Hill Road direction from 45 MPH to 35 MPH from a point at the bottom of the hill to Goodnoe Corner. Traffic coming in this direction comes into Goodnoe Corner very fast if they approach on a green signal.
  • I had the opportunity to review a traffic study done for a possible McDonalds in the shopping center and the traffic count for Silo Drive at N. Sycamore Street revealed that 95% of the traffic was turning right at this intersection. The 5% trying to turn left or to cross over to the Sycamore Grill side would cause excessive delays for all traffic and make drivers accept small gaps in traffic which compromises safety. I suggested directing all of the left turns and thru traffic to use Ice Cream Alley to  a right turn onto Rt 532 Durham Rd then the left turn and thrus can be made under the safety of the traffic signal at Goodnoes Corner.

These options were met with objection from [a local business owner] and the head of the Newtown Business Association based on their [belief] that if Sycamore Street was posted 25 MPH drivers would avoid this area and it would hurt business. I stated that in my experience every business owner I met wanted lower speed limits so pass-by traffic has the opportunity to view the various businesses within the 25 MPH zone. Obviously these two township business owners won out and the BOS would not endorse any of the options.

I hope these ideas help you in finding a plan to enhance pedestrian safety and overall roadway safety in this area.

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No Traffic Committee Needed Say Newtown Township Supervisors!

According to a resolution put forward to the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) at its July 14 2021, public meeting, “The purpose of the Newtown Joint Traffic Committee shall be to improve the quality of life for Newtown Township and Newtown Borough residents, to improve Newtown Township’s and Newtown Borough’s desirability to visitors, workers, and businesses, and to ensure safe access to multi-modal transportation options that meet the needs of residents, visitors, workers, and businesses in Newtown Township and Newtown Borough by ensuring the ability to safely walk, drive, bike, and use public transportation throughout the Township and Borough in accordance with a consistent and comprehensive approach to pedestrian and vehicular circulation and safety.”

There was a long discussion about the makeup of this committee viz-a-viz the Borough vs. the Township, how many members should be on the committee, and whether the committee was even necessary. In the end, the BOS decided that the committee was not needed and did not vote to send the resolution to Newtown Borough to move forward.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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