PA Turnpike Rt 29 Slip Ramp
Citizens Advisory Committee
Draft Minutes - Meeting #6
July 13, 2000
Provided by Sue Staas, Alternate Member from Charlestown Twp
CAC minutes 07-13-00 Meeting #6
Minutes taken by Joshua Klayman, Key Management Strategies, Inc.
Chris Merrill, Reporter, Philadelphia Inquirer
Steven Burgess, Charlestown Land Owner
Kevin Kuhn, Charlestown, Supervisor
Hugh Willig, Charlestown, Supervisor
INTRODUCTION, PROTOCOL AND RATIFICATION OF MAY 5, 2000 MEETING MINUTES
Seth Lieberman of Key Management Strategies, Inc. opened the meeting and welcomed everyone. Lieberman then reminded the group that the seats in the front were reserved for CAC members or alternatesspeaking members of this meeting. He also informed the group of the presence of Chris Merrill, a reporter from The Philadelphia Inquirer, and introduced Joshua Klayman, of Key Management Strategies, Inc.
Lieberman continued by asking if there were any modifications to the minutes from the last meeting. Kim Colket said, "I was in attendance and Norm Vutz was in attendance as an alternate." Lieberman stated that the sign-in sheet would be passed around this evening to ensure that everyone is accounted for.
Another member stated that, since he was not present at the May 5, 2000 meeting, he was unable to "champion" some of the proposed alternatives, which were described in the minutes as "We dont understand" or "Need more information". The member wanted to know whether he would have the opportunity to explain those alternatives. Seth Lieberman responded by saying that, tonight, the group would go over the alternatives that had not been defined.
The meeting minutes from May 5, 2000 were approved, based on the comments above
Seth Lieberman explained that the agenda for the meeting was:
- Welcome/ground rules
- Future Meetings
- Population, Employment & Induced Development Projections (presented by Scott Brady of DVRPC)
- Define Alternatives
- Assess Pros & Cons
Seth Lieberman stated that, during the May 5th meeting, several CAC members commented that the group had not yet fully gathered the facts necessary to provide community recommendations. Lieberman explained that, following the meeting, he had created a proposal, presenting the groups concerns and requesting approval for additional meetings, which he had subsequently submitted to the PA Turnpike commission. Although the meeting extension has not officially been approved, Lieberman stated that he had been given permission to talk about the additional meetings.
Prior to the June 13, 2000 meeting, Lieberman had written a preliminary meeting timeline on a flip chart, which he revealed to the group for feedback. Lieberman planned for four (4) additional meetings, which he numbered "7" through "10".
||Review progress on the O&D and Zip Code study status.
Review report on Chester County Planning Commission minutes, or as a result of the Outstanding Info we define tonight
||Define Matrix of Alternatives.
Review data gathered.
Decide on any additional alternatives that would go through the DVRPC modeling. Perhaps we can run them in a way that they could be prepared.
|6 Months Interim:
||Lieberman stated that it will take a relatively long time to update the modeling and that, perhaps, a newsletter could be created to keep CAC members informed of progress
||Question and answer session, dynamic meeting
The Group would prepare a pamphlet containing information for members to share with the organizations that they represent.
||Final input on the alternatives.
The Group would funnel the responses that members obtained from the organizations that they represent.
The Group would then review alternatives in light of the new information.
(*As a result of discussion, meeting #9 was moved to April, and meeting #10 was moved to May, 2001.)
After explaining the proposed meeting timeline and descriptions, Lieberman acknowledged that members would need to make significant commitments to the upcoming meetings. He continued by saying that, fortunately, there should be sufficient time for CAC members to plan for and set aside evenings for the meetings.
Lieberman then opened up the discussion to the larger group, asking for questions and/or clarifications.
One group member asked, "Is the ultimate meeting agenda saying that we are not looking for consensus from this group at all?" Lieberman responded affirmatively, stating that he was not looking for a majority vote.
Another member continued, "Were extending the alternatives to a significant number. Is there a winnowing down process?" Lieberman responded that yes, during meeting #8, the group would run a no-build and a few other alternatives together to evaluate the results.
A third member asked, "Is it reasonable to expect the model to be able to run for 5 or 6 alternatives instead of 2 or 3?" Lieberman stated, "As far as I know, there is some willingness to run alternatives if they are viable. There is an enormous expense. Maybe we dont need to run all of them; we would decide that in meeting 8 in November."
Lee stated, "I like the flow, but Im concerned about how stretched out it is. Is this your opinion or do we really need the hiatus or can it be compressed?" Lieberman answered, "I believe that it is necessary to have the 6 month hiatus to give time for the process and to respect your time, as well as with the expense being paid for my time, and not have you reconvening when nothing has been decided. I think that this is the most logical, but I am open to having that discussion."
Another member stated, "It may also be lost opportunity. Somewhere in the middle of that is Trammel Crow, somewhere in the middle of that, theyll need to move on. I agree that you dont want to waste time. If it takes 6 months then it takes six months." Terry W. continued, "I agree with Lee, Id rather have it tighter with a tighter goal. Maybe we could even bump it up a month away from June in the summer." Lieberman asked Scott Brady if that would be unreasonable.
Scott Brady of DVRPC replied that, no, it would not be ridiculous to schedule a meeting in April, but that "people would have to dedicate time for this." They will be working on other projects, too. I would agree with the member that the meeting could be moved up earlier, but then it may need to be pushed back again due to lack of pertinent information, workload, etc.
Another member suggested that the hiatus between meetings #8 and #9 remain, but that maybe meetings #6 and #7 could be moved closer together, as well as meetings #7 and #8.
Other members responded to that suggestion by stating that people might not turn out for a meeting held in August. Seth Lieberman replied that part of the reasoning for the meeting timeline was "to give some time for gathering of additional data."
Another member responded, "At some time in there, townships are going to be asked to review data and comment on it in a timely manner." Another member responded, "That is going to drive everything: how fast the townships respond."
As a result of the discussion, meeting #9 was moved to April and meeting #10 was moved to May, 2001.
Following the date changes for meetings, the discussion continued:
Lieberman reaffirmed that he believed that the most important thing is to have two fairly compressed meetings at the beginning, then a 6-month hiatus, followed by two final meetings and a recommendation.
A member asked, "Do there need to be two months between #7 & #8?" Lieberman stated that he suspected "that there will be more data gathering between the meetings. We will define data needed today." He explained, "We once had two meetings, four weeks apart and it didnt really help."
Jeff suggested that since the O&D, and maybe the Zip Code, data would be ready in August, "It might be smart to send out the O&D and Zip Code information before the meeting for people, and then distribute it to all CAC members in August." Lieberman stated that Key Management Strategies, Inc. would distribute the information.
Another member inquired, "Does that mean that the alternatives can be moved to October?" Lieberman replied, "My gut says that things will not go that quick. Im hoping that this will accomplish it. I am willing to have a discussion in the September meeting if things go differently."
A member asked, "Weve been told that the model is expensiveCan we get some ballpark of how expensive it is? That way we can decide how many alternatives to run." No definitive answer was given.
Another member asked, "Do we have to do a run for each alternative?" The response: "Yes, but they can be done pretty much simultaneously."
Seth Lieberman then asked if there were any additional questions about future meetings. He invited the group to email him with any other suggestions or comments about the meeting schedule.
Sue stated, "I suppose that at some point somebody from the Turnpike has to bless this and from something that youve said at the meeting, it doesnt sound like its been approved." The response from the Turnpike was that the future meetings had been "recommended to be approved" and that most items that are "recommended to be approved" are approved. It was stated, "We had already had discussions with Seth prior to the last CAC meeting about continued meetings."
At that point, Seth Lieberman introduced Scott Brady and said, "Id like Scott to talk about the Population, Employment & Induced Development projections. And then, I want us to define what weve gained and what that missing information is."
Population, Employment & Induced Development Projections:
Scott Brady, DVRPC
Scott Brady said, "Good evening," and introduced himself to the group. Brady continued by saying that CAC members might remember him from the November 9, 1999 CAC meeting, at which time Brady had given a presentation on slip ramp modeling. Brady then referred to a particular slide from that presentation, which had been included in the handouts; the slide showed a table that was broken down by townships and "talked about the future 2020 population, employment, and changes from 1990 to that time."
Brady continued by stating that, following those original projections, the mid-decade census projections were made available and that the DVRPC had used that newly available information to develop 1997 as well as revised 2020 projections. However, many other developments have or are proposed to take place, including the Trammel Crow announcement.
Brady explained, "This time, we will go about it differently." Instead of relying on these 2020 projections developed with the counties, which are supposed to have gathered information from the townships, a technical committee has been established. The technical committee is composed of DVRPC, KCI Technologies (the Turnpikes traffic consultant), and the Chester County Planning Commission. The commiscommitteesions s goal is "to develop a 2025 forecast for population and employmentour best preliminary estimate." These numbers will then be taken to the township boards, presented by Chester County Planning Commission. "We will say that this is our forecast and this is why this forecast is believed to be correct, but you people are the ones who really know. You (the townships) hear what the developers say and you hear this every month at your township supervisors meeting. We want your input, change the estimates a little bit here, or tell us were nuts, but you tell us how to change it."
Scott Brady explained that he had purposely separated out population and employment from induced development. "In the prior models," he stated, "there were no projections of induced development. You can go to conference session after conference session where some people will say that there is no such thing as induced development and others will say induced development is substantial (i.e., 20% or more.)"
Brady asserted that the technical committee will address this issue by looking at the background informationthe "Township Character" (e.g., Rural, wanting to remain rural)in order to develop a number of indices, which will then help to specify a percentage of induced growth for each township. These preliminary numbers will then be taken to the township supervisors, and if they think that the percentage should be higher or lower, they should provide the committee with a reason and the committee will take a closer look at it. "We are not going to use the official numbers; we are going to let the townships give input." That way, Brady stated, "Township leaders will not be able to say that something was not considered.
Scott Brady then encouraged group members to ask questions.
One member asked, "Are there any inputs for any companies that are in the counties that are not municipally based?" (e.g., Vanguard is based in East Whiteland.) Brady responded that DVRPC has traditionally based the numbers on township numbers, not the specific employer numbers and requested that the member please address a note to Seth Lieberman about that.
Lee asked, "When will you be doing this work for us?" Scott Brady replied that "a lot will matter on what happens in the Chester County Planning Commission." Brady explained that the Chester County Planning Commission has "lost two of their transportation planners to consultants, so they are doing a lot of work with a skeleton staff." He continued by saying that DVRPC was helping out and "We want to review the technical papers on induced demand to boil some of these papers down to abstracts for you. We will, if you request, make the technical papers available to you." However, the township can not "take the information for six months to look it over, because that starts at the front end of the modeling process and affects the entire timetable."
Lee then asked, "Can we earmark a meeting ahead of time to schedule a public meeting?" Scott responded, "Were depending on the CAC members to coordinate that with your township. We need to plan to present the preliminary numbers at the September meeting, which needs to be set tonight."
Stating that "No one knows the townships better than themselves," Lee asked, "Is there a way that we can bring each township into the process even as you even begin to develop the projections? Can we start at the beginning with township supervisors?" Scott replied that he would need approval from the Chester County Planning Commission in order to do that.
Someone said, "We need to go public and have a public mtg. And the township supervisors would say, Why didnt you contact us sooner?" Scott Brady responded, "I cant speak for Bill Fulton on that, but I would be more than willing for that."
Lee volunteered Schuylkill Township as a guinea pig for a workshop and/or public meeting, if Scott Brady "thought that it would help." Lee explained that Schuylkill Township offered a good balance, because it is neither the largest, nor the smallest township and offers a midpoint between rural and developed areas.
Seth Lieberman made the suggestion, "What if you had a technical meeting and had the township planning commission people go to technical meeting?" Scott Brady felt that that would be an excellent idea.
Seth thanked Scott for his time and presentation. Lieberman then acknowledged that Scott is making a sincere effort to ensure a "good process" and to make that process as complete and transparent as possible.
Lieberman continued by stating that he had heard a lot of comments about members not having enough facts and data to "make a good, fact-based decision." Lieberman said that he would like to spend some time during the current meeting defining that missing information. He asked, "What data is needed in order to say there should be or shouldnt be a slip ramp." Lee indicated that he did not understand what Lieberman meant, and Lieberman added, "Specifically, data that is needed that we dont already have."
GROUP-SPECIFIED INFORMATION/DATA NEEDED IN ORDER TO MAKE INFORMED RECOMMENDATIONS
- Origin and destination data
- Baseline traffic that exists today, and how far can we go from the slip ramps to measure that traffic.
- What developments will be made on existing local roads (by PennDot, etc.) for each alternative?
- The answers to the 26 Chester County Planning Commission Questions.
- Outstanding building permits, municipality zoning, and township form 537 plan.
- Environmental data (watershed, etc.)
- Visual impact.
- How much does it cost to build certain things.
RESPONSES TO EACH OF THE ABOVE-SPECIFIED TOPICS
- Origin and destination data
Employers have been approached for information on where employees live. 162 firms have been contacted. Zip code data has been obtained from 30 of the larger firms.
- "Can we see it graphically in a map to help the townships decide?"
"Yes. The zip codes are being plotted. Originally, we werent looking at Chester County: We were looking at Montgomery County, Bucks County, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Now we are looking at employees from the West, because of the interest of the CAC in a possible "all move" electronic interchange.
- "Actually, I was just asking about employers in the area that you may have missed that would be relevant."
"The county commissioners promised us that information in February of 1999, and it never materialized. As a result, we used the 162 companies from the Great Valley Chamber of Commerce."
- "I thought that the zip codes were used to show the addresses of employees."
No, only the areas where the work trip originates. This ensures privacy. "It doesnt show zip codes from Lancaster County. A lot of employers wont give that information." The idea was to determine how many people working in Great Valley use the Valley Forge Interchange coming to and from work.
- "Yeah, but now you dont know the overall picture." 0
"No, that is why we went back and replotted data to include Chester County. Everyone has ideas on how to get the information, but no one has been able to get itIts a privacy issue. Montgomery, Bucks, Jersey, Chester are included---we might not have all of the smaller, far-off counties. All of the data collected will be there."
Baseline traffic that exists today, and how far can we go from the slip ramps to measure that traffic. You are going to add traffic to a road system that already exists.
A member stated, "From the traffic commission, a five to ten mile radius may be better."
Scott Brady replied that we examined traffic in a radius of several miles from the change to the highway system in order to measure the effects of that change to the highway system. As you get further away from that change, effects diminish.
- Sue stated that the CAC members are afraid that the modeling, which needs to use this data, will not capture the info and things from five miles away could cause things to go wrong. In addition, she stated, "The data that we had was extrapolated by KCI from old studies. We now need good baseline data from intersections (current) to extrapolate from."
Scott Brady replied that he believed that the member was referring to one of his slides, which showed a sample of the forecast. Brady explained that, though the slide zoomed in on the area of the slip ramps, his group had studied a much larger area than the slide showed. He stated, "In the actual report, we have examined very large areas for modeling to see how, if you change traffic patterns in one area, it will affect other areas. The oldest traffic count data that we used was 3 years old, but we will completely reexamine and recount every location." Brady specified that, in addition to counting everything "above the level of a local road in the Federal Functional Classification system", his group will count several locations on local roads.
[Sue would like to suggest certain intersections for Scott to study; she will give that information to Joshua Klayman. Scott Brady stated that, if people have existing traffic counts that they would like to have included, they should submit them to Scott. Sue will find out the information from the Charlestown Township traffic study.]
- "Several milesdoes that mean Phoenixville?"
Scott Brady replied that the borough of Phoenixville was represented in the model, but the data wasnt gathered in the borough of Phoenixville.
- Lee asked if PennDot roads were the only roads above the level of local roads.
Scott Brady replied that the Federal functional classification does contain PennDot roads, but they also go beyond that to include roads that "could be considered collectors." Brady continued by stating that, during the February CAC meeting, Brady had listed the exact roads in Lees township included in the model.
- Depending upon the alternative, would PennDot work with the slip ramp to accommodate the traffic on single-lane direction roads?
J. Roth, KCI, explained "We took a look at the build scenario and determined which roadways and intersections needed upgrades to accommodate the traffic distributions and related levels of service to a point that is equivalent or better than the no-build condition." He then stated that PennDOT, PA Turnpike Commission, the municipalities and developers would coordinate the upgrades to accommodate the overall traffic changes.
Can we make available our information on what improvements will be made on existing local roads taking each alternative separately?
When the traffic model is re-run to determine the traffic changes Associated with different slip ramp alternatives and adjacent developments, the intersections and roadway segments in the study area will be reevaluated. The results of this analysis will be made available for review. This same information has been requested by the Chester County Planning Commission.
The answers to the 26 Chester County Planning Commission Questions.
"In the April Meeting, there was a list of approaches to respond to. We responded to the Chester County Planning Commission. We can forward that information to members. In June, we received a letter from the Schuylkill Township with recommendations that was sent out to the Governor. Attached to that letter were questions about DVRPC modeling, and they (DVRPC) were required to respond. At the end of the meeting, the responses of DVRPC to the Schuylkill Township will be available."
Outstanding building permits, zoning for municipalities, and township form 537 plan.
Scott Brady indicated that Chester County Planning Commission is already in possession of the development proposal information but that the technical committee definitely needs access to the zoning information for each township. Brady stated that the type of zoning will affect the levels of induced growth projections.
- A member stated, "I thought that we were using zip codes to look at origins of employee trips." The member said that the idea had been that a good amount of the traffic was coming from the south, and not from the turnpikenot having to do with the Valley Forge interchange. The member asked, "Where are the employees coming from?"
Walt responded that the turnpike had been planning to show who comes to Great Valley. Walt continued by stating that the whole idea behind the zip code study was to prove that the traffic information was correct; this is why he asked who used Valley Forge interchange. Walt stated that he plotted "for every company that sent me a zip code." This included Philadelphia, Montgomery and Southern Chester County, but did not plot for Delaware County.
- Lee, having looked over the list of roads to be studied in Schuylkill Township, said that the roads listed were appropriate. He then asked, "If we (the Townships) tested, at our nickel, additional roadswith a traffic consultantwould you be willing to include additional roads?"
Scott Brady replied that, while that should be fine, DVRPC does reserve the right to examine, approve or reject the counts of the traffic consultant.
Lee volunteered, to Brady and DVRPC, "If we know in advance when you are testing, we can simultaneously address different roads."
- "Do you use data from developers?"
Scott Brady replied, "Usually developers must conduct a traffic study for townships when they have a technical proposal; they are definitely valid counts after being reviewed internally as stated earlier"."
Scott said that he would refer people to the traffic count section. "Its all public data. We give you the actual, 24-hour, intersection and vehicle classification counts with every project report; you can definitely review it."
- "When will the next round of counts be made?"
"We have several sites that we always do as part of our regular traffic counting program. In November, as part of this project‰s schedule we would schedule some others. ... We typically try to avoid counting in the summer."
Environmental data (watershed, etc.)
Walt has the environmental reports for the study area that was considered in the development of alternatives.
Lieberman stated that CAC members should assume that all of those answers will be provided once the group determines the alternatives.
How much does it cost to build certain things?
- "A lot of the alternatives do not have any idea of economic standpoint. How do we get rid of pie in the sky ideas?"
Lieberman reminded the group members that list of alternatives had been developed through brainstorming, listing everything that came to mind in the hopes of coming up with some new ideas.
- "What is economically feasible, not only unit costs but roadway costs and bridges? When you get down to some of the more viable alternatives, those costs will make a differences."
- "Provide the cost of what its costing to build the slip ramps and bridges elsewhere. Potential bridges could be built. How much does a bridge spanning the turnpike cost? What about relative costs of alternatives?"
- "We need someone sitting here to say, Do you know the cost issues associated with this? Dont you think that KCI should be able to give us a ballpark? If we are trying to condense the meetings, then it is not feasible to go through all of these alternatives."
- Lee cautioned that, once cost is included, one has to consider "fully burdened cost." (e.g., What would the alternative cost vs. mass transit, buses, etc.) Lee continued by saying that the group would be "getting into one.???ect of a very complicated system that goes beyond what the CAC knows how to do."or what it is being asked to do. "Bridge span vs. intersection vs. tunnel is crazy. The question about cost: Are you wondering how much the turnpike commission is willing to spend?" Lee continued, "With the new information added in, I doubt that the option that costs six times more than the least option is going to be run through the simulation. Ask the Turnpike commission if they are willing to spend this? That is a non sequitur if the option is actually good for the community. Look at the minutes of meeting number 5; youll find that only two of the alternatives involved building a major road. It had to be somewhere in Great Valley in order to avoid going through residential or major environmental areasthey have already been ruled out. The cost of gates isnt important if it doesnt matter since we cant do it anyway."
Seth Lieberman suggested that the CAC members allow "cost" to be a topic at future meetings."
Lieberman then displayed a flip chart listing the alternatives generated by the CAC members and asked group member to indicate whether they needed more information about certain options.
ALTERNATIVES (Comments in parenthesis)
- Under turnpike
- No build
- Larger off ramp extending almost to Rte. 202 and into GV Corp Center
(*Has since been eliminated, see below.)
- Slip ramps that funnel onto limited access roads- e.g., turn Rte. 29 into limited access to 202. ("Limit every company that has a driveway and take them out of business." "We dont want to get back into cost. We are still brainstorming.")
- Ramp across Trammel Crow quarry property directly to northern part of corporate center. ("How is this different than the two above it?" "I almost think of something towards Swedesford Road, moving the slip ramp location further south." "Making a parallel route to 29 somewhere around SMS.")
- Ramp to 422 West of Valley Forge. ("Take people off of 422 onto the turnpike Westbound to have limited access to avoid some of the traffic coming from Phoenixville. The only place where 422 comes near the Turnpike is Valley Forge. Its an additional slip ramp, working in tandem with the slip ramp to Great Valley. But that still doesnt resolve where the slip ramp exits. Its an effort not to use the local roads coming from Phoenixville.")
After defining the aforementioned alternatives, Seth Lieberman stated that the group would assess the alternative "Slip ramps that funnel traffic onto limited roadse.g., Turn route 29 into limited access." Lieberman passed out yellow pads of paper
Lieberman requested that supporters of the specified alternative explain it to the larger group, and Lee volunteered.
Lee stated that it is frustrating to exit the Turnpike, as at the Pocono Interchange, and come to a signal-controlled intersection as part of the trip to access I-80. Lee explained that he objects to sending a high volume of traffic to a traffic signal. "The slip ramp should dump you into the limited access road. Limited access would be like 202, where you can only get on or off with exits, accelerating and decelerating, as opposed to stop lights."
Lee conceded that, for Route 29 to become a limited access road, there would need to be an interchange to Great Valley Parkway and Swedesford Road. He said that the stoplight would be removed, as well as the nearby gas stations, etc. In order to handle local traffic, Lee suggested creating a cloverleaf or an interchange for other destinations.
Seth thanked Lee and asked CAC members to list the pros and cons of the alternative. He then asked the members to put their initials on the yellow sheets.
Next, Seth Lieberman suggested that the group list the pros and cons for "Longer Off-ramp Extending almost to RT. 202 and into Great Valley Corporate Center (Keep slip ramp traffic to a minimum.)" Lieberman asked if anyone supported the alternative, noting that it would direct traffic through existing businesses. No one supported the alternative, so it was eliminated.
The next meeting was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, 2000.