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PA Turnpike Rt 29 Slip Ramp
Citizens Advisory Committee
Draft Minutes - Meeting #4
April 12, 2000
 

Provided by Sue Staas, Alternate Member from Charlestown Twp
 
Note: The attendance list for this meeting has been omitted
from this web version of the minutes.

ROUTE 29 SLIP RAMPS

Chester County, Pennsylvania

CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

DRAFT MINUTES

Meeting # 4

DATE: April 12, 2000

TIME: 7:00 P.M.

LOCATION: Desmond Great Valley Hotel

Malvern, PA

INTRODUCTION, PROTOCOL AND RATIFICATION OF MEETING MINUTES

Seth Lieberman of Key Management Strategies opened the meeting, welcomed everyone and announced that a reporter was present. He again pointed out that the first several rows of seats were reserved for CAC members and alternates. Other attendees were to be observers only.

Lieberman asked if there were any modifications to the minutes from last month’s meeting. A committee member inquired about the Bronx Expressway example discussed at the February meeting. He believed that the gates on this roadway are used to prevent motorists from using side streets. His understanding was that the gates do not limit the time of use of the on ramps as reported in the meeting minutes. The committee member who cited the example was not present so Seth Lieberman will need to follow-up with her for clarification (see note below).

NOTE: Joan Kober spoke to Leigh McGee to obtain clarification on the example that she cited at the February 23rd meeting — she was referring to the road leading to Interstate 95 (not the Bronx Expressway as noted above). She explained that the gates do limit the time of use of the on ramps to, in fact, prevent motorists from using side streets.

Another member corrected the grouping of environmental and safety concerns as one item on the list of criteria for success ¾ they should be broken out separately. Lieberman asked the group whether anyone has not been receiving meeting minutes. One member responded that he had not received minutes from the last two meetings. Joan Kober of Key Management Strategies will verify the address and send copies of the minutes from the last two meetings (as well as all future minutes) to this member. A final correction was added by a third committee member ¾ the proposed Trammell Crow commercial park will be 2.5 million square feet in size (not 4.5 million square feet as reported in the minutes). The minutes were then ratified as there were no further modifications.

REVIEW OF CAC GOALS AND MEETING AGENDA

Seth Lieberman explained that tonight’s meeting is the fourth of six proposed meeting. He then offered the following as the goals of the CAC:

  • To provide community input to the project team
  • To identify information or studies that are needed to make a decision
  • To suggest alternatives not proposed or evaluated before
  • To modify existing alternatives
  • To provide pros and cons of all the alternatives

Lieberman pointed out that the agenda for tonight’s meeting is an aggressive one. It will include:

  • Two brief updates from Walt Green
  • A presentation by Jay Roth on approaches to induced traffic concerns
  • Responses to the Chester County Planning Commission request for information presented by Jeff Davis
  • Refinement of additional alternatives
  • Identification of pros and cons of alternatives

A committee member noted that two alternatives were added after the last meeting. He asked whether additional suggestions could be offered. Seth Lieberman recommended that members contact him with any additional alternatives.

Lieberman then called on Walt Green to present two updates. Green reported that:.

  • The traffic survey conducted during rush hour at the Valley Forge interchange was completed on March 30th. The survey results are currently being analyzed by consultants working with the Turnpike Commission.
  • The reports mentioned at the last meeting are still available ¾ please call Walt Green at 610-292-3795 if you are interested in accessing any of these reports

PRESENTATION ON INDUCED TRAFFIC

Jay Roth of KCI Technologies introduced himself. KCI is the traffic engineering consultant for the PA Turnpike Commission on the proposed Route 29 slip ramps. Roth reviewed the fact that DVRPC has prepared traffic projections for 3 slip ramp alternatives and a no build alternative. These projections included traffic volumes on the PA Turnpike main line at Interchange 24 (Valley Forge), along Route 29, White Horse Road, Yellow Springs Road and the other roadways in the vicinity of Route 29 in the study area. Some of the community feedback received through informal discussions with public officials and with citizens at last year’s public meetings indicated that some felt that not all traffic volume had been accounted for in the DVRPC model.

At the November 9, 1999 CAC meeting, Scott Brady discussed what the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission did to actually simulate traffic volumes associated with the Route 29 slip ramp alternatives. He discussed the inputs or the various sub-models that were used to generate the traffic volumes that were shared with both CAC members and other individuals at public meetings. Comments were still received indicating that all traffic volume had not been accounted for.

These informal comments were formalized in a December 20, 1999 letter sent to the Turnpike Commission by William Fulton, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission. In this letter Fulton stated, "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." CAC members received a copy of the Chester County Planning Commission letter as an attachment to the February 23rd meeting minutes. The letter also referred to a number of issues not related to induced traffic ¾ these issues will be addressed by Jeff Davis of the PA Turnpike Commission later in tonight’s meeting.

Roth prepared a memo to the Turnpike Commission in response to William Fulton’s letter ¾ he distributed copies of the memo to CAC members. Through discussions with transportation planning officials and DVRPC and through extensive research many different definitions of induced traffic have been uncovered. At a meeting with the Chester County Planning Commission on March 1st, Roth agreed to come up with strategies to approach induced traffic.

Roth asked CAC members to share their perceptions of what induced traffic means to them. He asked, "What do you think has not been accounted for? Do some members feel that all traffic has been accounted for?"

One member stated that the numbers don’t account for the fact that there will be additional development if slip ramps are built ¾ both business and residential. The member pointed out that building would take place in surrounding areas ¾ not just at the slip ramps. He continued that there will also be many more attempts at getting zoning changed so that more businesses can come into the area as a result of easier access.

A project team member asked the representatives of the local municipalities to review their comprehensive plans or their zoning to determine the areas and the amount of change which they believe would be "induced" by pressure caused by slip ramps. It was stated that the townships should have the best insight to potential zoning changes.

Another member indicated that it would be appropriate to include either the net increase or decrease in traffic that will result from the build or no build alternative. Jay stated that this brings up an important point ¾ the need to look at what results from changing the transportation infrastructure (e.g., addition of slip ramps at Route 29). Commuters associate a certain cost to their daily travels. This cost is not necessarily just in dollars, but can also be in time. If commuters find that the cost associated with using slip ramps to or from the Turnpike is less than the cost of the route they’re currently taking, they will shift to the less costly alternative.

There are a number of variables that are analyzed in the DVRPC model ¾ travel time is one of them. The sub-assignment that Scott Brady talked about goes through a minimum of 15 different iterations to make sure that the number of vehicle miles traveled in the entire region gets down to the smallest amount possible. Seth Lieberman of Key Management Strategies asked Roth to provide a clearer definition of the term sub-assignments. Roth explained that there are a number of formulas that are inside the DVRPC model. Scott Brady at the November CAC meeting described the traffic simulation process used by DVRPC as a process involving four major sub models: trip generation, trip distribution, modal split and trip assignment.

A committee member asked about an error factor that Scott discussed in his presentation. Jay explained that Scott was referring to the traffic model for a no build scenario. Typically, when the model is run for this scenario, raw numbers are generated for each of the roadways -- these are compared to traffic counts conducted recently on those same roadways. Then calibration factors are determined for each roadway to adjust the raw output of the model. Those same calibration factors are assigned to a build or future year scenario as well. It’s not so much an error as an adjustment to the volumes to simulate actual conditions.

One member expressed surprise that traffic experts can’t agree on the concept of induced traffic. He asked Jay Roth to explain the sticking points preventing experts from gaining agreement on this concept, because the whole phenomena has been around for a long time.

Roth explained that one of the major model inputs is the population and employment forecasts provided by the municipalities through the Chester County Planning Commission. For example, the 1997 and the 2020 population and employment forecasts for 5 of the municipalities that are in the area of the slip ramps (Charlestown , E. Whiteland, Phoenixville, Schuylkill and Tredyffrin) were used by DVRPC in the model. These five townships forecasted an approximate 15% population increase between 1997 and 2020 as well as an almost 50% increase in employment. This is where the disagreement comes from ¾ trying to adjust population and employment to account for transportation improvements being proposed. While slip ramps are considered by some to be a radical change to this area as they give access to the Turnpike not currently available, they’re not as much of an impact from a traffic standpoint as adding additional capacity on an existing corridor. This is supported by a number of national case studies related to highway access and highway capacity.

A committee member questioned this concept by asking, "How do you know that?" Another member added that it seemed logical to him that if you add more access, capacity will be increased. A member of the project team replied that traffic increases much more from capacity increase than from an access addition. For example, a new lane adds more capacity than access to an unchanged number of lanes.

Another member asked about traffic volume added to a roadway that isn’t full by the addition of a new access ramp. Roth explained that the reportable change on the Turnpike is driven by trip generations, trip origins and trip destinations. If you have more vehicles destined for an area than would have been destined for the area without the access, the volumes go up. Roth offered the following as an example of the reason for the disagreement between traffic experts. The municipalities have forecasted that by 2020 the employment in the five municipalities will increase at a much greater rate than the population. Therefore, the argument could be made that right now with the existing facilities and employment increasing, people are drawn to the area to work and the cost of their travel is going to go up. In searching for ways to reduce their costs, they may want to live closer to their jobs. Therefore, the five municipalities could receive a greater than expected push for residential development, because people who work in Great Valley will want to live in Great Valley. This is an argument against the induced traffic caused by the slip ramps. Another argument could be made that reducing the commute times to and from the east on the PA Turnpike is going to reduce the commuter cost of getting to jobs in Great Valley. Therefore, commuters will be happy to stay where they are and not move closer to their jobs. This is where the disagreement arises ¾ which argument is accurate. If the first argument is accepted, are the population forecasts adequate? On the other hand, if the second argument is accepted, do the forecasts need to be increased somewhat and run again through the DVRPC model so that the volumes will be adjusted upward accordingly.

A member interjected that he has problems with the additional development idea of induced traffic. The pressure for development already exists in this area. All of the municipalities have already been subjected to development pressure for at least the last decade. The only issue that he sees is the fear of curative amendments ¾ and, to the best of his knowledge, none of the five municipalities have been subject to a new constitutional challenge over the last decade. Several other members debated the accuracy of this statement and some lively discussion ensued.

The member continued that the real issue he sees is more the impact of changing the traffic patterns than the question of new development. If you take traffic and draw it to a point, the impact within that "funnel effect" is where the real issue occurs. That’s the induced traffic. Jay responded that this is already taken into account in the model. It is the difference between the no-build and build volumes that illustrates the changing travel patterns chosen by motorists.

Another member asked the committee to consider the development that took place when Route 422 was completed. The areas around those interchanges sprang up in the early 90’s when overall development pressure was non-existent. The member feels that there is no difference between a new road and a new interchange.

A member asked if the slip ramps will increase traffic on the Turnpike as many more people will now use the roadway to go a shorter distance. Jay Roth explained that the time savings realized by traveling the Turnpike have already been accounted for and factored into the model. There is a deterrent right now for people to use the Turnpike as they don’t want to deal with back-ups at the Valley Forge Interchange. In a build scenario, the total number of vehicles using the slip ramps and Interchange 24 is higher than the number of vehicles passing through Interchange 24 in the no-build scenario.

Seth Lieberman emphasized the need to agree on a definition in order to account for induced traffic. Jay Roth replied that he was more interested in discussing strategies to be used in addressing induced traffic than just defining the term.

Roth recommended considering the following two strategies for evaluating induced traffic:

  • Rerun the DVRPC regional traffic model to determine the effect of proposed Route 29 slip ramps with revised population and employment numbers
  • Request that the Chester County Planning Commission review the population and employment forecasts already used by DVRPC in their previous run of the traffic model. If no revisions are made by the Planning Commission, the previous run of the traffic model could be utilized for the analysis. If revisions are made to any or all municipality growth projections, the DVRPC model could be rerun as mentioned above.

Roth explained that Lee Whitmore and William Fulton of the Chester County Planning Commission are comfortable with either strategy. Roth felt that the general consensus was that there would be more comfort in the municipalities with the strategy based on numbers provided by the municipalities rather than a blanket 3% to 5% prospective increase in traffic. The criticism is that new development and improvements are not included in the original model. Roth responded that since these developments and improvements had not yet been approved, they could not be included in the analysis.

A member asked if the Warner Quarry Development was included in the model. Roth responded that it was not as it was not approved at the time the model was run.

He explained that developments that have been approved since the last model run could be included in the next rerun of the model. Another way of handling these developments is to add the traffic generated by them to the appropriate intersections.

Seth Lieberman stressed the importance of giving Roth input on which induced traffic strategy to use.

A committee member questioned the radius of the traffic study around the slip ramp ¾ we’ve been told it’s about 1 to 1 1/2 miles, because traffic disperses beyond that distance. The member asked, " How do we know that?"

Roth explained that as you move further away from the slip ramps, there are increasing numbers of roadways in the network to handle the increased volume. Another project team member emphasized that at 1 to 1 1/2 miles from the slip ramps, you won’t see a large increase in traffic. A committee member expressed her skepticism and asked to see traffic numbers relating to particular roads. Roth remarked that it is possible to draw screen lines across particular roads in the model in order to generate those numbers.

Another committee member had trouble subscribing to the theory described above. He felt that all the roads within a 5 to 10 mile radius of the slip ramps would go into a failure status. Then in a piecemeal fashion the intersections would be upgraded in various places and traffic would be funneled off failed roads onto the improved roads. He felt that this scenario would be played out continually — roadways would end up in a failing condition and improvements would then need to be made to get roadways back into useable shape. Roth stated that the many variables in this theory (development, employment, population, planning, roadway upgrades, etc.) are at the root of the induced traffic debate.

Another member suggested bringing a group of regional representatives together to evaluate the traffic situation in the whole concentric area. Another member agreed that no one agency can solve traffic problems ¾ everyone in the region needs to work together.

A committee member emphasized that the funnel effect is just a redistribution of traffic ¾ there is a need to deal with what additional traffic can occur. He would be in favor of the second alternative recommended by Jay Roth. This second alternative involves the Chester County Planning Commission working with the municipalities to develop revised population/employment forecasts. These forecasts, which will include consideration of PA Turnpike access at Route 29 (via slip ramps) could be used by DVRPC in re-running the regional traffic model.

A committee member offered a final suggestion of creating better access to the Regional Public Transportation system. This would get some people off the road and alleviate some of the problems instead of just redistributing traffic.

Seth Lieberman closed the induced traffic discussion by pointing out that the CAC needs to have a comprehensive view, but it needs to focus on the slip ramps proposal with this comprehensive view. He suggested that additional comments be referred to

the offices of Key Management Strategies (215-887-8775) or KCI Technologies (215-244-4444). Jay Roth will be happy to continue the discussion on induced traffic with any CAC member as the issue is a very complex one.

RESPONSE TO CHESTER COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION

Jeff Davis of the Turnpike Commission discussed the responses to the requests for information made by the Chester County Planning Commission in their letter of December 20, 1999. The project team met with the Planning Commission on March 1st. The meeting was very productive and resulted in the sorting of the 26 questions into 5 categories. Davis mentioned that the Turnpike should be able to address most of the issues. Below is the summary of issues and responses presented by Davis. Note that the issues have been sorted into the following 5 categories:

  • Volumes/level of Service
  • Mitigation, land use and transportation
  • Safety
  • Environmental
  • Miscellaneous coordination

 

SUBJECT

CATEGORY

PRELIMINARY RESPONSE

  1. Data to support need

Volumes/level of service

PTC is preparing additional information ¾ survey of traffic volumes at Valley Forge Interchange completed on 3/30; zip code survey to find out where people come from who work in area has been completed

  • No build level of service/ future conditions
  • Volumes/level of service

    PTC can provide additional

    Information ¾ dependent on traffic/alternatives

  • Review level of service worksheets carefully
  • Volumes/level of service

    PTC can provide information. Should development be factored in?

  • Consider "induced traffic"
  • Volumes/level of service

    Can do. CAC needs to agree on what "induced" is — separate presentation by Jay Roth

  • Commitments to reduce traffic impacts of ramps
  • Mitigation, Land use and transportation

    Can be addressed after alternative is selected/refined

     

  • Analysis of existing safety conditions
  • Safety

    Discussion on doing accident analysis within 2 mile radius

  • Will PTC commit to doing periodic studies?
  • Volumes/level of service

    PTC can do a study as promised at Upper Dublin Slip ramp. Not responsible to evaluate all intersections in area ¾ need to establish limitations. The study at Ft. Washington will be completed within 2 years after the opening of the slip ramps.

  • Impact on regional air quality
  • Environmental

    Further coordination needed with DVRPC

  • PTC must identify a comprehensive strategy to assist Charlestown & Schuylkill with growth management
  • Mitigation, land use & transportation

    Important issue. Planning Commission to check land use planning toolbox to evaluate what CCPC can do. PTC will see what we can do to help.

  • Safety analysis north and east of project area
  • Safety

    Same as no 6

  • Security issues with non- electronic toll collection users
  • Safety

    Will be addressed through signing, video enforcement & educating customers

  • Minimize storm water impacts to Valley Creek watershed
  • Environmental

    PTC plans to work with Trammel Crow on this issue

  • Municipalities review and approve landscape plan for entire interchange area
  • Mitigation, land use & transportation

    PTC will coordinate as with Upper Dublin, but will not turn over the ultimate authority ¾ will accept input from local municipalities.

  • Prohibit outdoor advertising
  • Miscellaneous coordination

    This is a local issue. PTC will check ordinances. PTC does not regulate this area.

  • Avoid visual obtrusiveness
  • Mitigation, land use & transportation

    PTC can further address/investigate if scheme/alternative can be selected & refined

  • Minimize impacts to historic resources
  • Mitigation, Land use & Transportation

    PTC will further coordinate any refined scheme/ alternative with PHMC as required

  • Closed loop traffic signal system for route 29
  • Mitigation, Land use & transportation

    Any traffic signals needed for slip ramps could be made compatible with existing/proposed closed loop system

     

  • Park & ride need interchange/slip rampsThis issue could be addressed at some point by the appropriate agency ¾ look at whole Route 29 corridor
  •  
  • Orient slip ramps to the south
  • Mitigation, land use & transportation

    This could be further investigated. However, it needs to be coordinated with overall plans for corporate center.

  • PTC should acquire land beyond ramps to prevent proliferation of land uses that disrupt interchange areas.
  • Mitigation, Land use & transportation

    PTC will follow PennDOT’s criteria for limited access right of way. PTC will not acquire significant amounts of excess right of way along Route 29.

  • Consider innovative approaches to toll structure to discourage commuters from the north
  • Mitigation, Land use & transportation

    This can be discussed, but will present operational & possibly safety problems

  • Commitments on prohibiting trucks
  • Mitigation, Land use & transportation

    PTC can further consider. This is what is being done at Fort Washington slip ramps currently under construction.

  • Commitment needed for not converting electronic toll booths to conventional tolls without municipal approval
  • Miscellaneous coordination

    PTC does not intend to construct slip ramps that will be converted to conventional interchanges. PTC is trying to become more fully automated and is not looking to build many more full interchanges.

  • Commitments needed that municipal and PennDOT coordination take place in considering slip ramps to and from the west
  • Miscellaneous Coordination

    No problem. PTC fully expects to coordinate development of slip ramp plan and design with all appropriate stakeholders

  • PTC should consult elected officials before selecting a preferred alternative
  • Miscellaneous coordination

    No Problem. Through proper coordination, the development of a preferred alternative should be evident

  • Fully integrated incident management program be included
  • Safety or mitigation land use & transportation

    PTC already has such a program and it is being further improved. Incident management within region is being coordinated by DVRPC.

     

    A committee member mentioned that the item mentioned in issue # 24 is an alternative. Jeff stressed that the Turnpike Commission is not even close to selecting a preferred alternative for the slip ramp construction.

    A committee member asked if a response letter would be sent to the Chester County Planning Commission ¾ Jeff replied that a letter would be sent. Another member suggested that available information be sent now ¾ a discussion will be held with CCPC on preferred packaging of the material. A project team member pointed out that it might not make sense to submit information now if the model is going to be re-run by DVRPC and/or additional alternatives are to be studied. A committee member suggested that Turnpike Commission send either information that won’t change or information that can be used as a baseline to compare against changed documents.

    Seth Lieberman pointed out that at the last CAC meeting we listed a no build and 3 slip ramp alternatives. We also brainstormed other alternatives and received other suggestions by e-mail. Before assessing or rating alternatives, Seth felt that it was important to revisit the following list of criteria for evaluating a successful alternative:

    • Does not increase traffic in residential areas
    • Does not increase traffic for commuters
    • Takes into consideration environmental concerns
    • Takes into consideration safety concerns
    • Conforms to Chester County Planning Commission Landscapes
    • Plan and local zoning ordinances
    • Protects the area to the north of the Turnpike and develops the south ¾

    East Whiteland contested the development of the south portion of this as they feel there is already too much development in their township. It is a very sensitive issue with residents of E. Whiteland as the township is already 50% developed commercially

    • Is mindful of long term consequences ¾ 10 or more years in the future
    • Improvements are orchestrated and sequenced correctly
    • Optimizes usage of existing highway facilities

    A committee member emphasized the importance of discussing pros and cons of all the alternatives. It was suggested that all the graphics be posted at the next meeting. Another member asked if the number of meetings could be extended so that all the data needed to make intelligent recommendations could be gathered.

    A member recommended that another meeting be held in a month to keep the momentum going. Seth Lieberman recommended that any additional suggestions for alternatives be e-mailed to Joan Kober at Key Management Strategies (at Joan.Kober@right.com)

    ACTION ITEMS

    ACTION

    BY WHOM

    COMMENT

    Decide on the strategy to be used in accounting for induced traffic resulting from Route 29 slip ramps

    Walt, Jeff, Jay Roth, Chester County Planning Commission, Seth

    Relay input from 4/12/00 CAC meeting to help drive decision

    Send material and recap summary to Chester County Planning Board in response to their letter of December 20, 1999

    Walt, Jeff

    Available material should be sent now ¾ check with CCPB on desired packaging of material

     

    NEXT MEETING

    Date: Wednesday, May 10th

    Time: 7:00 P.M.

    Agenda:

      • Welcome and introductions
      • Review of ground rules, approach & results to be achieved
      • Minutes ratification
      • Refinement of criteria to assess the merits of various alternatives
      • Definition of additional alternatives (beyond the 3 proposed)
      • Identification of pros/cons of alternatives
      • Future meeting topics & date

    Location: Desmond Great Valley Hotel

    One Liberty Boulevard

    Malvern, PA 19355

    (610) 296-9800

    Minutes prepared by: Joan Kober


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