PA Turnpike Rt 29 Slip Ramp
Citizens Advisory Committee
Draft Minutes - Meeting #3
February 23, 2000
Provided by Sue Staas, Alternate Member from Charlestown Twp, who provides this introduction:
Following are the minutes of the last Citizens' Advisory Committee for the Turnpike, which was held on February 23. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 12 at 7PM at the Desmond. Observers are welcome - in fact, PLEASE ATTEND! Kevin Kuhn, Wendy Leland, Paul Hogan, and two new Charlestown residents-to- be attended the February meeting as observers.
A plain printable copy of these minutes is available by clicking here.
This, the third meeting of the CAC, was notable because everyone was suddenly clamoring for verifiable data and information! Opinions were on hold - data was in demand - and sorely lacking!
William Fulton, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission, and one of the principle architects of Landscapes, gave a presentation that was very interesting. Particularly interesting is the list of questions and issues that he presented on behalf of the County Commissioners. The list is attachment A to these minutes, and bears reading, I think.
I hope that those who read these minutes will send comments and suggestions to the CAC representatives (John Martin, Charlie Philips, Wendy Leland, Sue Staas), to this website, or to the supervisors. You are welcome to use my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the CAC representatives, I will forward them to the rest of us. Also, PLEASE KEEP THOSE LETTERS to the County Commissioners, your elected State Officials, the Governor and the Turnpike Commissioners coming (see list on this page). Ask and insist that the Turnpike Commission gather and share the information the Chester County Commissioners have requested.
ROUTE 29 SLIP RAMPS
Chester County, Pennsylvania
CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Meeting # 3
DATE: February 23, 2000
TIME: 7:00 P.M.
LOCATION: Desmond Great Valley Hotel
Citizens Advisory Committee:
Kim Colket Schuylkill Township
Judy DiFilippo Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors
Bill Fulton Chester County Planning Commission
Sandra Gorman Tredyffrin/Easttown School District
Robert Gross The Vanguard Group
Mike Herron Transportation Mngt. Assoc. of Chester Co.
Maynard Honesty East Whiteland/Tredyffrin Jnt Trans. Auth.
Lee Ledbetter Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors
Gwen Miley Centocor, Inc
John Martin Charlestown Township & Zoning Board
Joseph Maxwell Great Valley Association
Katherine Pettiss Great Valley School Board
Peter Quinn Greater Valley Forge TMA
Pete Wilson Sanofi Synthelabo
Jim Cannon Centocor, Inc
Keith Holland SMS
Leigh McGee Charlestown Elementary School PTO
John Snyder Chester Co. Industrial Development Auth.
Sue Staas Charlestown Planning Commission
Project Study Team:
Jeff Davis PA Turnpike Commission
Walt Green PA Turnpike Commission
Christina Hampton PA Turnpike Commission
Jay Roth KCI Technologies, Inc
Jim Toth STV Inc.
CAC Facilitation Team
Joan Kober Key Management Strategies, Inc
Seth Lieberman Key Management Strategies, Inc
Tim OBrien Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
INTRODUCTION AND PROTOCOL
Seth Lieberman of Key Management Strategies opened the meeting and welcomed everyone. He again pointed out that the first several rows of seats were reserved for CAC Committee members and alternates. Other attendees were to be observers only.
He thanked everyone for their understanding of last months postponement due to severe weather conditions.
Seth explained that the meeting was the third of six CAC meetings. The focus of the first two meetings was primarily information distribution. Speakers presented much of this information and a variety of handouts and diagrams were made available. Seth emphasized the importance of paying attention to the other part of the dialogue the dissemination of information to the community about the relevance of plans, policies and studies. Another vital role of the committee is to insure that opinions and perspectives from the community are communicated to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission project team.
Seth reviewed the following agenda items for tonights meeting:
- Welcome and introductions
- Review of ground rules and approach
- Minutes ratification
- CAC results to be achieved
- Landscapes overview and relevance to proposed slip ramps
- Overview of project flow chart
- Response to prior requests for information
- Identification of criteria to assess the merits of various alternatives
- Identifying alternatives beyond the 4 previously identified
- Identification of pros/cons of 4 identified alternatives
- Future meeting topics
- Next meeting date
Seth asked everyone in attendance to introduce themselves to the group.
COMMENTS ON MEETING MINUTES AND APPROVAL
Seth asked if there were any corrections to the minutes. The minutes were approved with no corrections.
OVERVIEW OF CAC COMMITTEE RESULTS TO BE ACHIEVED AND MEMBER REACTION
In the spirit of promoting a dialogue, Seth presented a draft of what he thinks the key results should be. The CAC will:
- Provide community input to Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission project team on criteria for selecting a good alternative (keeping in mind that one alternative could be doing nothing)
- Identify information or studies needed to make an informed choice
- Suggest additional alternatives not presented by the Turnpike Commission
- Offer suggestions for improvements to alternatives
- Provide Turnpike project team with a list of pros and cons from the community based on defined factors of success
Seth asked for reactions from committee members.
One member asked for a realistic survey or study presenting current traffic statistics ― this information would help foster a better understanding of the problem.
Seth asked for other comments on the list. One member inquired about the prioritization of items on the list. Seths response was that the pros and cons would probably be discussed later in the process, but that he would like to begin brainstorming alternatives tonight.
Seth emphasized that the list is not set in stone, but that it will be used as a guide to move the process forward.
Seth introduced Bill Fulton, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission. Seth asked that Bill explain Landscapes with a focus on Landscapes relevance to the proposed slip ramps.
Bill stressed the importance of talking about Chester Countys comprehensive land use plan. The plan started in 1993 with discussions between members of the Chester County Planning Commission and the County Commissioners Board.
Bill pointed out that in formulating a land use plan, growth within the county is a major concern. It is also important to look outside the county as well. External factors and pressures affecting our community must be evaluated. Some of the key areas evaluated include resources, the countys agricultural industry and an important historical component (including Valley Forge and Brandywine). A lot of issues affect historic preservation, and the area has one of the largest employment centers in the state.
It is challenging to take all these factors into account when developing a land use plan. The idea is to manage growth so Landscapes is not a "no growth" plan. Growth is needed to sustain a high level of activity. This growth includes commercial and other new development that does not compromise the character of older development. The Planning Commission is trying to avoid sprawling development patterns at the expense of leaving buildings behind - these patterns are a tremendous waste of land. Sprawl has become a national term - were living in it and trying to deal with the consequences. The Commissioners came to the Planning Board and asked, "What do you suggest that we do about the situation?"
110 public information meetings were held in 1994 and 1995. The Planning Commission talked to every organization in Chester County to understand how to address the challenges that come with the countys growth. In 1996 the Commissioners adopted the Landscape Policy plan. The key word is policy - Landscapes is a policy or concept plan. Land use regulation is controlled at the local level - the county can only make recommendations. Therefore, in order for the plan to work, it has to be implemented 73 times (the number of municipalities in the county).
The entire county was evaluated through a wide range of analyses and public information activities. Bill pointed out that no municipal boundaries were shown on the map - that was the intent. The mission was to get a picture of what Chester County should be like without worrying about what each municipality should look like. The vision statement for the plan entails preserving what we have and locating development in appropriate areas. This vision statement is the driving force behind the plan.
The map shows a number of natural areas including streams and wetlands. There is a tremendous amount of rural landscape in the county - twice that of any other land use. The suburban landscape shown includes residential and non-residential development. Rural areas are also being developed - some growth in these areas is needed as long as the rural character is maintained. The Planning Commission is trying to define areas in a policy plan.
Once the plan was developed, the process advanced through a Vision Partnership Program with the 73 municipalities in the county. Each municipality was asked to sign a memorandum of understanding stating that they generally believed in the concepts of Landscapes. The staff of the Planning Commission then conducted an audit in each municipality of comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations and other publicly adopted documents. The audit was returned to the municipality in draft form. The municipality reviewed the document, made modifications and then received
a final report. The report sets the standard on how close the municipality is to Landscapes. It doesnt make the municipality wrong or the county right and vice versa - it simply identifies the differences.
Those differences became the scope of work for the Vision Partnership Grant Program. The Commissioners assigned up to $70,000 (in non-competitive dollars) to each municipality to narrow the gap. The Vision Partnership Grant Program only works if municipalities make it work (although the Planning Commission is more than willing to help).
Growth boundaries were a major issue. Some of the villages discussed increasing density within the black lines on the map so that rural areas could be maintained outside the boundaries. The county needs to do a better job in the suburban centers of increasing density. The Planning Commission also produced two community design guides called Toolbox. The staff was directed to look at every idea in Pennsylvania that works and has either been through the courts or is common practice that can be used to help implement Landscapes. The end result was 73 concepts that were put into two volumes. Every municipality received two copies, and the Toolbox has been useful to both the Planning Commission and the municipalities.
Bill presented another overhead that highlighted the municipalities that are participating in the program. About 98% of the population is represented - only three municipalities are not participating.
Bill explained that he is in the process of developing the 1999 annual report of sub-division activity. He displayed an overhead with last years numbers that should be very close to the numbers for 1999. The number of lots and units that came before the Planning Commission were shown - municipalities must send these plans to the Planning Commission for 30 days before they take action. About 60 to 70 plans and 30 ordinances are brought before the Planning Commission each month.
There is a fair amount of variance in the degree to which different land uses are consistent with the map and with the policies of municipalities. Multi-family units, industrial and commercial facilities and institutions are highly consistent with the policies. Conformance of single family residential units was not as high - only about 50% of the plans submitted in 1998 conformed to Landscapes - the numbers for 1999 should be about the same. Bill emphasized that the numbers illustrate that Landscapes is not a magic bullet - just a concept.
Three functional plans are underway that are being carried out by the county. These include:
- Connecting Landscapes - a county wide transportation plan about 1 year from completion
- Updated Open Space Plan - based on the Municipal Plan
- Water Resources Management Plan - that will help in the implementation of Landscapes. It will raise the consciousness level on what the water supplies are, what water demands are and all kinds of water issues - the hope is that this will be completed by the end of the year
Bill emphasized that the county is working with municipalities on Landscapes, but the county is doing a lot of its own work as well - it is not dumping the responsibility for everything on the townships and municipalities.
One of the number one issues with Landscapes is to maintain economic stability. If this is lost, major employers could decide to leave the area. The county is trying to maintain the rural character of the area, but not at the expense of driving businesses away. The area is attracting some decent suburban development. If we dont sustain urban areas, we will be in a lot of trouble. Public transportation wont work if we lose density.
Bill enlarged the map diagram to make a few additional points. He explained again that the light green areas represent a rural landscape, the dark green areas are natural landscapes and the yellow areas are suburban landscapes. The Planning Commission is now asking for a lot of information to help them make some good decisions. In Landscapes the Turnpike was the growth boundary - fixing the density inside so that the outside rural areas could be maintained.
The way E. Whiteland, Tredyffrin and Charlestown deal with these densities is going to determine, to a great extent, how this part of Chester County is going to look. Those 3 municipalities are part of the Vision Partnership Program. When Landscapes was developed, the County Commissioners agreed that modifications would be made to the map if municipalities had some differences of opinion. There have been about 25 suggested modifications. The map is a policy plan - it is not the land use plan of Chester County. Each municipality has its own land use map. If you were to overlay the zoning districts of those three townships on the Landscapes map, you would probably see a fairly consistent mix.
Bill then solicited questions from the audience. One member asked, "What kind of information are you looking for?"
Bill explained that he wrote a letter to Seth listing issues on the slip ramps proposed at Route 29. The Commissioners have not endorsed the Route 29 ramps, because they have a list of questions. The intent was to ask legitimate, objective questions of the Turnpike Commission so that the County Commissioners could then make an informed decision. One of the major concerns has been: whats going to happen to the area north of the Turnpike? Were not saying "no" to the proposed slip ramps, but we need to know what the Turnpike has found out about the northern area - who is coming in and going out of the area? The area north of the Turnpike is creating some issues for the county, because the Turnpike was used as a demarcation line between developed and rural areas.
A member asked Bill if he could give a few examples of the types of questions asked. The letter and questions that Seth received from the Chester County Planning Commission are included with these minutes as Attachment A. Seth conducted a meeting with the project team and the Chester County Planning Commission on March 1st. The Planning Commission agreed to prepare a summary of the questions. This summary is not yet complete, but it will be distributed to all committee and project team members after it is finalized. In the meantime, please refer to Attachment A.
Bill continued the discussion by sharing the following as examples of some of the questions included in the list sent to Seth:
- What employment data is available that illustrates that ramps are needed?
- Can worksheets that indicate levels of service be provided?
- Where are people coming from that work in the area?
Bill emphasized that the county is asking a lengthy list of interrelated questions with a heavy emphasis on obtaining meaningful statistics and analyses. Questions are being put in context so that the county can get an idea of what the whole picture looks like.
The goal is to get objective answers to objective questions.
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS FROM COMMITTEE MEMBERS
One committee member talked about the continuing difficult traffic situation in the area - especially in relation to the three major roads: the Turnpike, Route 202 and Route 30. He emphasized that there is a need to take a hard look at actual studies to help determine what should be done, as something needs to be done soon.
Seth asked about getting copies of the Landscapes plan. Bill replied that copies can be purchased from the Chester County Planning Commission for $25 each. Bill will, however, make some copies available to the group.
A member mentioned that consultants have predicted a 52% increase in traffic on Route 202 with a "no build" scenario. In a build scenario, traffic would increase about 67%. Is there a way that those numbers can be synthesized with Turnpike projections? Bill Fulton mentioned that the county is asking, "What is the relationship between building the slip ramps and the enormous cost of improving 202 and 29?" Most of you know that Trammell Crow is proposing a 4.5 million square foot commercial park. Trammell Crows traffic studies are looking at conditions with and without the slip ramps. Another question to be asked is, "If we improve Route 202, will the major traffic headaches go away?" Bills opinion was that the answer to that questions would be "no".
A committee member asked if there would ever be an end to the traffic problems. It seems that the more roads are improved, the worse the situation gets. Bill responded that the old adage of build and they will come is somewhat true, but that you cannot just ignore road problems without creating chaos.
A committee member asked why companies like Trammell Crow keep building even though they know that traffic conditions are difficult. A project team member explained that if new buildings are built that are no longer accessible due to traffic conditions, businesses will start to walk away from the area. Slip ramps have a possibility of improving things if they are used properly.
A Turnpike project team member mentioned that the process of surveying every business in Great Valley is under way - 55 businesses have been surveyed to date. The work is being done to provide answers to questions that everyone is asking. Also, a study of interchanges in Montgomery County (including Downingtown) is being conducted. The current plan is to physically survey every vehicle going through Valley Forge during rush hour on a particular morning in order to find out where they are going. A separate survey of the entire Turnpike has been completed. This survey determined that 38.6% of the people traveling through Valley Forge were going to Chester County. The data from the Valley Forge survey should be available in about 4 months.
Seth thanked Bill for his comprehensive report and pointed out that Bill is a resource that we can all access.
One committee member felt that Charlestown representatives were not getting the information that they needed. There is concern that there will be "cut through" traffic going east in the morning and west in the afternoon. This member emphasized the need to get data about the number of people getting on the Turnpike at Valley Forge in the morning and the number of people from Lionville going west in the afternoon.
DISCUSSION OF PROJECT FLOW CHART
Seth pointed out the importance of determining how the work of the CAC Committee contributes to the final decision regarding slip ramps. Jeff Davis presentation of the project flow chart shed light on that question. Please refer to Attachment B: Project Flow Chart.
The Turnpike Commission hopes to have electronic toll collection in place between Harrisburg and New Jersey by fall of this year. Therefore, full interchanges are not needed - slip ramps can be used as they are for E-Z pass only. Only two slip ramps are currently under construction in Fort Washington. The Turnpike is anxious to get them up and running so that all bugs can be worked out before constructing additional slip ramps.
The Turnpike Commission has made no final decision about the proposed Route 29 slip ramps. They have committed to completion of the CAC process.
The level of study needed for the construction of slip ramps is comparable to that of a Categorical Exclusion by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. There is no need to analyze widely encompassing alternatives - it is only necessary to look at reasonable alternatives.
Seth asked where the results of the CAC would affect the project process. Jeff replied that a decision would not be determined until completion of the CAC process. He reminded the group that the Turnpike Commission was looking at slip ramps in other areas - not just at Route 29.
A committee member asked how the group could get a sense of how decisions are made to go forward, build, not build or go somewhere else. Jeff explained that the goal of the CAC is to address as many issues as possible. Its impossible to make everyone happy, but the Turnpike Commission aims to move forward with something that makes sense.
Another member voiced a concern about the group being very divided on the issue by the end of the sixth meeting. Jeff expressed his hope that that would not be the case and Seth emphasized that no vote would be taken.
Seth asked the group to send additional questions about project flow to Jeff Davis or Key Management Strategies.
Seth informed the committee that Scott Brady will be completing his answers to the questions submitted by Lee Ledbetter by the end of the week. These questions and answers will be included in tonights meeting minutes. Please refer to Attachment C.
A question was asked about the interaction between Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Turnpike. Tim OBrien from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation answered that the Turnpike Commission usually sits down with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to work out issues. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will be looking over the plans for slip ramps to see that they meet design criteria. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will also look at traffic studies prepared by Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. KCI Technologies coordinates traffic projections with project plans.
Walt Green provided this list of reports available to committee members.
- Wetlands Delineation Report *
- Permitting Needs Analysis
- Phase 1A Archaelogical Survey *
- Historic Resources & Determination of Eligibility Report *
- Environmental Overview Evaluation
- Environmental Contamination Report *
- Traffic from DELAWARE VALLEY REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION *
- Plant Survey *
- Motorist Traffic Pattern & Travel Characteristics
If you are interested in reviewing any of these reports, please call Walt Green of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Walt can be reached at 610-292-3795.
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ("Pennsylvania Department of Transportation") PROJECTS IN AREA
Tim OBrien was asked to describe major Pennsylvania Department of Transportation work currently underway in the area. He offered the following recap:
- Section 300 on 202 (Exton to Swedesford Road) and Section 400 - brochures will be passed out to discuss work on Section 400 that will occur in 2000
- Section 300 design work will continue until end of 2003 - includes interchange at King of Prussia.
- Michael Baker Engineers will complete final design for Section 300. Environmental studies have been completed. New construction will be coordinated with present work on Route 202.
A committee member asked if there has been a proposal to alleviate current Route 29 traffic congestion. A project team member answered that there will be intersection analysis to figure out ways to improve service.
Seth instructed committee members to ask questions directly or send them to the KMS office so that they can be included in the minutes.
Seth initiated a discussion of criteria for a successful alternative. He asked the group to think about the following questions - "How will we know if we have a good alternative? What are the criteria for success?" The committee suggested the following criteria:
- Acceptable to the greatest number of people
- Does not increase traffic in residential areas
- Does not increase traffic for commuters
- Optimizes utility of highway facilities -
e.g., do we have highway resources that are not being used?
- Does not negatively affect economic viability for residents, businesses and employees
- Does not decrease resident quality of life
- Is creatively designed to protect the north and develop the south
- Alleviates existing problems ( e.g., Charlestown Road, Route 202 to King of Prussia and Swedesford Road)
- Improvements are orchestrated and sequenced correctly
- Takes into consideration environmental and safety concerns
- Conforms to Landscapes and local zoning ordinances
- Is mindful of consequences that are long term 10 years or more in the future
One member disagreed with the thesis of looking at a single.???ect of traffic. His fear was that if we only look at slip ramps, were still in trouble because we dont have a systemic approach. He continued by pointing out that it was not wise to look at such a narrow focus as there are other factors that will overdrive the plan of action decision. For example, an increase in light rail might be a better alternative than slip ramps.
Another member stated that you have to look at slip ramps in light of all other effects - however, the CAC cannot affect these other factors. The committees purpose is to evaluate slip ramps.
The criteria listed above will be further shaped at the next meeting.
REVIEW OF ROUTE 29 SLIP RAMP ALTERNATIVES
Jeff Davis offered a quick recap of slip ramp alternatives 1, 2 and 3.
- Alternative 1: The Flyover west bound off ramp goes out from the roadway, crosses over the turnpike, over Yellow Springs Road and ties in at the Commons at Great Valley. East bound on ramp goes up from Route 29, over Yellow Springs Road and ties into the turnpike behind veterinary clinic.
- Alternative 2: Under Turnpike west ramp goes down, bypasses Filippo property and goes under the turnpike. Both ramps are on grade with Yellow Springs Road.
- Alternative 3: Diamond - west ramp passes property of Fillippo at grade; east ramp comes from Route 29 to Yellow Springs road and comes out to turnpike
BRAINSTORMING ON ADDITIONAL ALTERNATIVES
Seth asked the group to suggest other viable alternatives. The below suggestions were offered:
- Longer off ramp that extends almost to Route 202 and directly into a corporate center (Trammell Crow or Great Valley)
- An east bound off and west bound on option added to each alternative
- Slip ramps that dump traffic onto limited access roads
- Gates that limit the time of use of the slip ramps
- Direct connection between the Turnpike and Route 422
- Intermodal transportation scheme which uses all modes of transportation
(car, train, buses, bikes, etc )
These additional alternatives were offered by a committee member shortly after the conclusion of the meeting:
- Make the slip ramp incoming only in the morning and outgoing only in the evening. This should answer the needs articulated by the Turnpike Commission by relieving the congestion at Valley Forge and providing easy access to Great Valley for commuters
- Make 90% of the exits at Valley Forge E-Z Pass - this would encourage commuters to use E-Z Pass and increase the throughput
Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2000
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Location: Desmond Great Valley Hotel
One Liberty Boulevard
Malvern, PA 19355
Minutes prepared by:
ATTACHMENT A CAC MINUTES
FEBRUARY 23, 2000
FROM: THE COUNTY OF CHESTER PLANNING COMMISSION
William H. Fulton, AICP, Executive Director
Memo to Seth Lieberman, Senior Consultant (&Facilitator of CAC)
Key Management Strategies
RE: Community Advisory Committee for the Proposed Route 29 Slip Ramps
December 20, 1999
In considering the possible topics that could be presented and discussed in future meetings of the Community Advisory Committee, our staff has developed the enclosed list of issues or concerns.
This list of data needs, design and operational concerns and procedural issues is based on our initial thoughts about the proposed project. Over time we will have additional issues that will need to be addressed.
I am certain that before the County Commissioners consider a final position on the proposed project, they will be looking for clarification on each of these issues.
We appreciate the opportunity you are providing to discuss this proposed project.
William H. Fulton, AICP
Cc: County Commissioners
POSSIBLE ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED WITH THE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE CONCERNING A PROPOSAL FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION FOR SLIP RAMPS IN THE VICINITY OF PA ROUTE 29.
The Turnpike Commission has indicated that they are in the planning stages of this project and additional efforts will be made to address public concerns. The following is an initial list of issues that should be further evaluated by the Turnpike Commission.
- Data should be provided to support the basic premise that these ramps are needed by the employment centers along Route 29. This could be done by reviewing zip code information for employee residences from a representative sampling of companies in the corridor.
- Clarification is needed on the level of service analysis of the no-build scenario. A proper comparison of future conditions must include an accurate list of the traffic improvements that are assumed for each scenario.
- The detailed worksheets on the level of service analyses must be carefully reviewed for accuracy.
- An additional travel simulation is needed to establish traffic projections and levels of service for a scenario that assumes induced traffic. If the slip ramps were constructed, additional development could be expected.
- Commitments must be secured for all traffic improvements that will be required to reduce the impacts of the slip ramps.
- An analysis is needed of the existing safety conditions on the approach roads north and east of the proposed interchange. The analysis should document the existing problems and identify ways to mitigate the impacts of additional traffic.
- The Turnpike Commission should commit to doing periodic studies to evaluate the performance of intersections and roadways affected by the slip ramps to ensure they continue to handle additional traffic safely and efficiently.
- An analysis is needed to estimate the net impact on regional air quality.
- Turnpike interchanges in the metropolitan area and throughout Pennsylvania have a tendency to generate land uses that are highway oriented and generally not consistent with the area north of the turnpike. This matter should be investigated thoroughly, and in the event the ramps are constructed, the Turnpike Commission must identify a comprehensive strategy to assist Charlestown and Schuylkill Townships with a growth management program that would include:
A safety analysis of the secondary roads north and east of the project area should be completed to evaluate the potential impacts caused by additional traffic. A plan consisting of improvements to address the safety needs should be developed and implemented.
Safety and security problems could be created by the unique situation where the slip ramps are intended only for electronic toll users. The ramps must be carefully designed and signed to preclude a situation in which non-electronic toll users attempt to use the deceleration lane, then realize they must return to the through lane, creating a safety hazard. Possible security issues relate to the non-electronic user who attemps to drive through or around the tollbooth.
The project area is located on the fringe of the Valley Creek watershed. The best management practices should be used to minimize storm-water impacts, with priority given to infiltration techniques.
The municipalities should have a direct role in the review and approval of a landscaping plan for the entire interchange area.
Outdoor advertising should be prohibited.
If retaining walls are used or significant earth moving, they should be carefully designed to avoid being visually obtrusive.
Measures should be taken to minimized impacts to historic resources in the area.
A closed loop traffic signal system should be implemented for the Route 29 corridor extending from Phoenixville Pike to US 30.
A park and ride lot should be provided at the interchange to encourage ride-sharing.
Ideally the design and alignment of the interchange should be oriented to encourage use to and from the employment centers to the south along Route 29 and to discourage use to and from the natural and rural landscapes to the north. In theory, this is a compromise solution that could avoid some of the negative land use impacts. While there is no obvious way to implement this concept, it should be investigated. One possibility includes implementing turning restrictions at intersections to preclude or discourage movements to and from the north.
As a land use control, the Turnpike Commission should acquire property or easements beyond the ramps to prevent the proliferation of the highway oriented land uses that typically consume and disrupt the interchange areas.
The Turnpike Commission should consider innovative approaches to its toll structure for the slip ramps to discourage use by commuters from the north. These are some ideas that could be considered:
- Protecting natural and historic resources
- Requiring landscaping and aesthetics improvements
- Controlling outdoor advertising
- Precluding highway oriented, high trip generating land uses in the area around the interchange
Commitments are needed to ensure that trucks will be prohibited from using these ramps.
Commitments are needed to ensure that the electronic toll booths are not converted to conventional tolls without municipal approval.
Although the Turnpike Commission has indicated that they have no plans for the construction of the two ramps that would accommodate traffic to and from the west, commitments are needed to ensure that any future consideration of such ramps would be developed with the municipalities and PennDOT.
The Turnpike Commission should consult with elected officials before selecting a preferred design alternative.
The slip ramps should be fully integrated into a traffic incident management program with PennDOT relating to the regional expressway system. This would include variable message signs, closed circuit cameras, emergency detour routing, highway advisory radio, incident response teams, and connection to PennDOTs traffic control center.
- The off-ramp would only be open in the morning peak hours and the on-ramp in the evening peak hours. This would allow the commuters from the east to get to the employment centers, but would not encourage development pressures in the natural and rural landscapes. The problem with this concept is that users who unknowingly approach the off-ramp just after its closing will have a circuitous detour , or will attempt to break the security system.
- The marketing approach and toll structure for the slip ramps should be oriented to the employment centers. For example, the off-ramp toll for the morning peak period would be relatively low and the on-ramp toll in the morning would be artificially high. This would accommodate the commuters from the east into the Route 29 employment centers and discourage the use of commuters getting on the turnpike heading east. This is a unique form of congestion pricing.
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Project Process
Annually Update Capital Program to Identify Projects to Improve Turnpike Infrastructure
Conduct Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Studies
Finalize Engineering and Environmental Studies
NOTE: This project process information was developed as a result of a request from the Route 29 Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). It is not intended to be all inclusive for all Commission projects. The level of study indicated is comparable to that of a Categorical Exclusion by the PA Department of Transportation. This process does not apply to Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).
Answers to questions submitted by Lee Ledbetter, Schuylkill Twp.
1. Will you be using the existing network?
The starting point for any simulation is the regional (9 county) model, including exiting highway and transit networks, maintained by DVRPC.
2. Will add (sic) new links and/or new nodes in the Schuylkill Township area, i.e., East Pikeland, Schuylkill, Charlestown, Phoenixville, East Vincent, etc.?
As presented to the Community Advisory Committee (C.A.C.) and mentioned in the handout, whenever DVRPC undertakes a corridor or subarea study, the study area is reviewed and enhanced to attain a finer "grain" to the networks. Whereas census tract traffic analysis zones (TAZs) may be sufficient in this area for regional air quality analysis or vehicle miles of travel (VMT) estimates, they are wholly inadequate for detailed examination of changes to volume occassioned by changes to the network such as the slip ramps in this case. Although the handout gave a representation of the network changes (enhancements) performed as part of this study, I will outline the changes to the study area network.
Network enhancements included new nodes (a node in this case is a point of access) where the model could load trips from the split Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZs). For the most part, the existing highway network was deemed adequate for a proper loading as it includes all facilities except some minor local roads.
- Charlestown Twp roads included in the base network include from west to east:PA 401, Valley Hill Rd, Yellow Springs Rd, Phoenixville Pike, Merlin Rd, Pikeland Rd, Charlestown Rd, PA 29, White Horse Rd and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Added to these facilities for the slip ramp analysis were Buckwalter Rd, Pickering Rd, the section of Yellow Springs Rd between Valley Hill Rd and Phoenixville Pike, and Ashenfelter-Clothiers Springs Rd along the Charlestown-Schuylkill twp border.
- Schuylkill Twp roads included in the base network include Charlestown Rd, PA 29, White Horse Rd, Pot House Rd, PA 23, Valley Park Rd, Country Club Rd, Ferry Lane and Pawlings Rd. Buckwalter Rd and Ashenfelter-Clothier Springs Rd mentioned with respect to Charlestown Twp above were added where they help form the boundary between Charlestown and Schuylkill twps.
- East Whiteland in the base network consists of the following highway facilities from west to east: PA 401, Swedesford Rd, US 202, Phoenixville Pike, Planebrook Rd, US 30, King Rd, Sproul Rd, Malin Rd and PA 29. In addition, Sidley Rd-Mill La were placed in the focused network.
- Tredyffrin: Due to the size of the township and the many roads included, comment will be limited to that portion of the township north of the Conrail line. From west to east, facilities in the base network include Yellow Springs Rd, Swedesford Rd, US 202, North Valley Rd, Chesterbrook Blvd, PA 252, Howellville Rd, Duportail Rd, Cassatt Rd, Walker Rd and Old Eagle School Rd. Two facilities were added: Thomas Rd and Valley Rd W.
3. What data collection will you do to establish social(sic) economic characteristics, and trip generation characteristics of persons in the same area.
The primary source of information on socio-economic characteristics of an area population is the US Census Bureau. Along with general information like census tract population, data from this agency includes the number of households, auto ownership (0-car, 1-car, 2-car, 3+car households) employed person information (of a resident, not work location). In addition to this information, DVRPC periodically conducts household surveys, wherein participants are asked to keep a log of all travel activity for a set amount of time. From this and similar research around the country, trip generation rates are determined.
4. Do you have any direct information on social (sic) economic characteristics, and trip generational characteristics as related to the generational nodes in this area?
See question 3.
5. What is the accuracy of the existing network for the links in and around Schuylkill Township? Will you give us a list of the roads in the immediate vicinity, and identify the accuracy of the 2018 Projections for those links.
We believe the 2018 Projections for highway facilities in the study area are accurate, although we won't know for sure until we can do some traffic counts in 2018. But what I think you are referring to is the base year calibration of the model. If you remember the C.A.C. presentation, when the TAZs have been split and the highway network enhanced for a study, a run of the model is made for the current year. At the same time, traffic counts are taken for each of the facilities - sometimes at several locations on a facility. The current year forecasted volumes are compared with the counts. The accuracy is the calibration against the existing counts for all links where forecasts are to be produced.
In the slip ramp analysis, the calibration run yielded errors between 0 and 15 percent. For statistical reasons, the errors tend to be samllest on the larger roads and largest on the smaller roads.
6. What values for time, and what class for highway will you use to generate an intermodal split for this area? What transit links will you include in a network to test 2018 modal split?
The classes of highway facilities follow PennDOT classification. The travel time (impedance generated from congested travel time) start with a lookup table based on functional type, area type and number of lanes and are recalculated after each of the 15 iterations of highway assignment. A full discussion of this process can be found in "1990 Validation of DVRPC Travel Simulation Models", Publication 97017, October 1997.
As for transit service, the networks assumed the current transit service as well as those projects listed in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and 2020 Plan. These include additional service on the R5 west of Paoli Station, implementation of the Schuylkill Valley Metro and bus service between W. Chester-Glenloch-Great Valley-Phoenixville.
7. What travel distance to work data will you use to determine peak hour factors work (sic) trip, and etc. as related to work trips?
As with question 3 above, much of this information comes from the US Census and our own surveys. Those persons receiving the Census long form are asked information about work trips. This "Journey to Work" data is very valuable to transportation planning. In addition the household survey provides important information stratified by area type. Three types of person trips are loaded in the model: Home-based Work; Home-based Non-Work; Non-Home Based. This is a standard practice in modeling; for a further explanation, please see the above referenced report.
Peak hour volumes were developed by KCI Technologies and any comments or questions regarding them should be directed to that consultant.
8. What population for 2018 will you use for each of the named municipalities?
Please see the handout from the November C.A.C. meeting
9. What employment figures will you use for 2018 for the above named municipalities?
10. Will you provide a map of the highways in Schuylkill Township that you will consider in a network, showing the intersection and a (sic) running capacities, for the peek (sic) hours and for the purposes of ADT? When will you provide us with such a map.
Schuylkill Twp facilities in the network for the slip ramp analysis are given in the rather lengthy response to question 2. Peak hour questions should be directed to KCI. Daily starting capacities are given in the table look-up mentioned above and available in the publication mentioned.
11. What penalties will you use to adjust the initial projections, for capacity constraints?
The modeling package performs 15 iterations of travel assignment. Each one is not run separately. At the end of each iteration, the congestion (Volume/Capacity ratio) on each link leads to the impedance being recalculated. The next iteration of assignment uses these recalculated impedances as the starting point. Fifteen iterations is considered in the industry to approach convergence - that point where no trip can choose an alternate pathway without the systemwide travel time increasing.
12. What is the basis of the penalties you will use?
The well known equilibrium assignment; for instance, the Frank Wolf algorithm
13. If you do not know the penalties you will use at this time, will you disclose to us the penalties as you perform the study? Will you preserve a record of the hook-ups and other variables which you use to perform the various iterations.
We have answered this as part of questions 11 & 12.
14. How many iterations will be performed? Will you furnish us with the results of each?
As the iterations are an internal process of TranPlan, we are only interested in the results from the final assignment iteration.
15. Will you furnish us a disc and program allowing us to independently analyze the adjustments that you have made? When will you provide us with that disc and program?
You would have to purchase the TranPlan package as our site license does not permit our disseminating the model. We will provide specific intputs to the model that you would request, as we do with many consultants, but you would have to pay for any data request.
16. Will you consult the Township (sic) in regard to any of the forgoing predictions? If so, when will you consult the Township (sic)?
As DVRPC is a subcontractor to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority and their consultant, KCI Technologies, communication between the township and DVRPC should be directed to these entities. We will provide answers to the best of our ability to any legitimate questions which are forwarded to us in this manner. To reiterate, to gain a better understanding of the model inputs, please see the 1990 model validation report cited earlier.