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PA Turnpike Rt 29 Slip Ramp
Citizens Advisory Committee
Draft Minutes - Meeting #5
May 10, 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 # 5

DATE: May 10, 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 and welcomed everyone. He asked that members and alternates sit at round tables.

Lieberman continued by asking if there were any modifications to the minutes from last month’s meeting. One committee member felt that the minutes did not adequately depict the strength of the following request made by the group last month – that the work of the CAC not be defined by the current plan for six meetings. Another member pointed out that the correct name for his organization is the Chester County Development Council – not the Chester County Industrial Development Authority as reported in the minutes. A final clarification was offered by Melissa Carta. She pointed out that the comments attributed to her were actually made by Leigh McGee. The minutes were then ratified as there were no further modifications.

MEETING AGENDA

Seth Lieberman explained that the agenda for tonight’s meeting will include:

  • Refinement of criteria to assess the merits of various alternatives
  • Definition of additional alternatives (beyond the 4 originally proposed)
  • Identification of pros and cons of alternatives

REFINEMENT OF CRITERIA TO ASSESS ALTERNATIVES

Seth Lieberman explained that the criteria have already been reviewed twice. In addition, he has made several modifications that he feels make the criteria more workable. After some discussion, the committee agreed on the following revised criteria:

  • Minimizes negative traffic impact in residential areas
  • Minimizes increased negative traffic impact for commuters
  • Takes into consideration environmental concerns
  • Conforms to Landscapes and local zoning regulations
  • Mindful of consequences 10 years into the future
  • Improvements are orchestrated and sequenced correctly
  • Optimizes usage of existing highway facilities
  • Consistent with intermodal scheme

CONSIDERATION OF ALTERNATIVES

Seth Lieberman pointed out that there are a lot of alternatives to consider. He suggested that all meeting attendees (including visitors) get involved in the process of evaluating the alternatives. There were no objections to this suggestion.

Lieberman continued by explaining that the first 4 alternatives are the most well defined ones – not assessed, but defined. Additional alternatives to be considered have been added to the list by various committee members.

Seth Lieberman asked Walt Green of the PA Turnpike Commission to explain handouts that have been distributed to the group. The handouts include a description of four alternatives submitted by CAC committee member, Charles Phillips, and an aerial view of the roads mentioned in Mr Phillips’ letter.

Lieberman presented the following list of alternatives:

  1. Flyover
  2. Under Turnpike
  3. Diamond
  4. No build
  5. Longer off ramp that extends almost to Route 202 and directly into a Corporate Center (Great Valley)
  6. An east bound off and west bound on option added to each alternative
  7. Slip ramps that funnel traffic onto limited access roads
  8. Gates that limit the time of use of the slip ramps
  9. Direct connection between the Turnpike and Route 422 west of Valley Forge (Interchange 24)
  10. Intermodal transportation scheme which uses all modes of transportation (car, train, buses, bikes, etc.)
  11. Slip ramp incoming only in the morning and outgoing only in the evening
  12. Make 90% of the toll booths at Valley Forge E-Z Pass to encourage throughput – don’t build slip ramps until results of this initiative are evaluated
  13. Interchange direct connection to Route 202
  14. Ramp across Trammell Crow quarry directly to northern part of corporate center
  15. Ramp to 422 west of Valley Forge
  16. Build multiple ramps simultaneously at 252, Corporate Center, 401 and the Turnpike and 113 and the Turnpike

Seth Lieberman suggested that the committee use the following approach to evaluate the alternatives:

    • Carefully consider and clearly define each alternative
    • Discuss each alternative for no longer than 3 minutes. At this point in the discussion a committee member observed that each alternative has a proponent. Why not let a proponent defend each alternative? The committee agreed that this would be a valid approach.
    • Have all meeting attendees individually list the pros and cons of each alternative as it is discussed in relation to the criteria that have been developed. These comments will be tabulated at the Key Management Strategies’ office and a report will be produced and distributed.

A committee member asked how the assessment of pros and cons will dovetail with all of the data that has been requested. Lieberman responded by explaining that although all data requested would not be immediately available, this is still a good chance for the community to give feedback to the Turnpike Commission. The committee member had reservations on how she could assess alternatives without answers to important questions (undefined). Seth suggested that these concerns be captured on post-it notes so that they can be included in the record. Seth noted that he is aware that we don’t have complete information – however, he felt that we do have enough to make initial assessments.

Jay Roth noted the importance of identifying viable alternatives to be used by DVRPC to re-run the model. His feeling was that additional alternatives can be included, but not an unlimited number of them. A committee member responded by expressing his opinion that the cost of running the model is small in comparison to building roads that are a fiasco.

A committee member mentioned that the aerial map handouts distributed by Walt Green were useful resources – however, interpretation was difficult without labeling. Walt Green then walked the group through the identification of roadways and other areas on the maps.

The following table presents a summary of the group discussion on definition and evaluation of alternatives:

ALTERNATIVE

DEFINITION

DISCUSSION

1. Flyover

Needs no further definition

 
2. Under Turnpike

Needs no further definition

 
3. Diamond

Needs no further definition

 
4. No build

Needs no further definition

 
5. Longer off ramp into Corporate Center

Needs further definition – group consensus was that this referred to Great Valley Corporate Center

Rationale behind this alternative is to keep slip ramp traffic from being funneled onto residential areas. This is more in the spirit of what a slip ramp is intended to do. One member felt that this alternative was counterproductive for commuters going to the north – they are taken all the way to the south and made to get back on local roadways to get to their destination.

6. East bound off and west bound on option added to alternatives 1-3

 

 

A committee member defended this alternative by explaining that it would provide a balanced solution that would create a win for all areas. Another member felt that this alternative was not in keeping with the intention of Landscapes and yet another member questioned whether it would relieve traffic congestion in Charlestown. A further point expressed was that this alternative works in theory, but numbers must be crunched to accurately evaluate it. The assumptions need to be confirmed although the alternative is so different from others that it should be considered.

7. Slip ramps dumping traffic onto limited access roads

Needs more definition

 
8. Gates that limit the time of use of the slip ramps

Needs no further definition

Committee members explained that there were models for this in New York and Fairfax County, VA. Seth Lieberman asked if there was an objective way to find out if this approach works. A committee member suggested that this approach be combined with 4 ramps proposed in alternative 6. A committee member expressed concern that drivers would be confused by this scenario. Another member felt that defining "peak" traffic times for closure would be difficult.

9. Direct connection between Turnpike and Route 422

A committee member asked if this refers to an interchange at Betzwood Bridge or at some other location. A project team member explained that it refers to a spot immediately after the Valley Forge Interchange – possibly utilizing Gulph Road to drop traffic right onto Route 422. This is the only spot where the Turnpike crosses Route 422.

A committee member felt that this was an excellent way to use an existing roadway to improve traffic conditions. Good probability that some traffic congestion in Charlestown would be improved as commuters would bypass 29, drive on 422 and get on the slip ramp. Another member felt this would provide an access for commuters living along 422 in the north traveling to corporate centers. A member felt that in discussions to date there has not been adequate recognition of the volume of traffic coming from the north to the corporate centers.

10. Intermodal transportation scheme

Needs no further definition

The committee agreed that this should be considered in conjunction with the most viable alternatives – not as a separate alternative. It should be added to list of criteria (see last item on list of criteria)

11. Ramp incoming in morning and outgoing in evening

A committee member asked if the same road would be used or if there would be two different roads. A project team member replied that there would be 2 separate roads. Very similar to gate concept, but not as flexible.

Rationale for this alternative is that it will deliver traffic to the corporate centers and relieve Valley Forge traffic during peak commuting period.

12. Make 90% of the toll lanes at Valley Forge Interchange E-Z Pass

Needs no further definition

Committee member asked for clarification on number of toll booths to be set aside for E-Z Pass in present PA Turnpike plan. Project team member answered that 4 of 17 total lanes would be designated for E-Z Pass. This alternative proponent suggested that it makes a lot of sense – do what’s easy first and see if it solves the problem. Another member felt that 90% was outrageous. Another member felt that the spirit of the alternative did not rely on the numeric value of the percentage. Rather, he felt that if a relatively large portion of the traffic used E-Z Pass at Valley Forge, the slip ramps at Great Valley would be unnecessary. A project team member explained that the present plan calls for 35% of traffic to use E-Z Pass. A member asked if the Turnpike would consider changing this to 50%. A project team member responded that Route 202 could not handle this volume of traffic.

13. Interchange direct connection to Route 202

Needs further definition – clarification of where on Route 202 the connection would be made – a project team member explained that the connection would be somewhere between Valley Forge and Route 29

A project team member explained that this is not a feasible alternative as the area violates the criteria: it is residential, historic and a watershed for the Valley Creek. A committee member suggested that this alternative not even be considered.

14. Ramp across Trammell Crow quarry

Needs further definition – what does across the quarry mean? The ramp would actually connect with internal roads – this incorporates one of the original Turnpike recommendations.

A project team member explained that Trammel Crow has a plan with E. Whiteland and Tredyffrin to develop this area. No slip ramps were incorporated in that plan – the townships have asked Trammell Crow to revise plans to incorporate proposed construction of slip ramps. The project team member continued that a bridge across the quarry would have to be _ mile long – this would not be feasible. A committee member suggested that perhaps Trammell Crow would consider locating buildings out of the way of possible slip ramp locations.

15. Ramp to 422 west of Valley Forge  

This is the same as alternative #9 — combine with that alternative.

16. Build multiple ramps simultaneously at 252, Corporate Center, 401 and 113

Needs no further clarification

This alternative reduces the funnel effect. It would be advantageous to have 4 smaller funnels rather than 1 large one so that traffic is dispersed. A project member explained that there are some problems with this approach – 252 is purely residential and historic so it is not a particularly viable location. 401 is also purely residential and there is no industry near where it crosses the Turnpike. 113 does have some viability.

ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION

A project team member explained that E-Z Pass will be operational this year. Slip ramps won’t even be possible for at least 3 years. E-Z Pass will be unable to handle trucks. It is anticipated that 500 to 600 cars an hour will be processed through E-Z Pass. About 3300 cars per hour are now processed at Valley Forge. Jay Roth pointed out that cars will not necessarily be able to be processed through E-Z Pass unimpeded. Initially, lanes will be for mixed use (E-Z Pass and non E-Z Pass).

Several committee members expressed concern that if the majority of traffic continues to be funneled from the Turnpike to Route 202, congestion will still be a problem. A committee member suggested that intelligent traffic solutions are going to facilitate moving to the next level (e.g., closed loop synchronization). Where more capacity can’t be built, capacity will have to be handled better. New technologies will help to better manage capacity in the future.

Walt Green reported that new information will be available in the near future to verify DVRPC traffic numbers. Reports are being prepared based on data from a postcard survey, a survey conducted at Valley Forge, aerial photos and an all Turnpike survey conducted last year.

A committee member mentioned that the 2nd Wednesday of the month seems to be a good day for CAC meetings. CAC members will be contacted about the scheduling of the next meeting.

Minutes prepared by:

Joan Kober


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