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PA Turnpike Rt 29 Slip Ramp
Citizens Advisory Committee
Draft Minutes - Meeting #1
October 14, 1999
 

Provided by Sue Staas, Alternate Member from Charlestown Twp
A plain printable copy of these minutes is available by clicking here.

ROUTE 29 SLIP RAMPS

Chester County, Pennsylvania

CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

DRAFT MINUTES

Meeting #1

DATE:-October 14, 1999

TIME:-7:00 P.M.

LOCATION:-East Whiteland Township Building - Frazer, PA

 

ATTENDEES:  -  REPRESENTING:

Citizens Advisory Committee:

Bruce Carrol  -  Centocor, Inc

Melissa Carta  -  Charlestown Elementary School PTO

Mike Claus  -  Concerned Residents of East Whiteland

Kim Colkett  -  Schuylkill Township

Frederick Dougherty  -  Liberty Property Trust

Paul Farnell  -  Summerfield Suites Hotel

Sandra Gorman  -  Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

Robert Gross  -  The Vanguard Group

Mike Herron  -  Transportation Mgrs Assoc. of Chester Co.

Maynard Honesty-East Whiteland/Tredyffrin Jnt Trans. Auth.

Lee Ledbetter  -  Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors

Joseph Maxwell  -  Great Valley Association

Charles Phillips  -  Charlestown Planning Commission

Peter Quinn  -  Greater Valley Forge TMA

Pete Wilson  -  Sanofi Pharmaceuticals

Alternates:

Jim Bard  -  East Whiteland/Tredyffrin Jnt Trans. Auth.

Wayne Clapp  -  Chester County Planning Commission

John Grib-Great Valley Association

Sandy Henzie  -  Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors

Wendy Leland  -  Charlestown Township & Zoning Board

Claudine McGee  -  Summerfield Suites Hotel

Denise Prouix-Sanofi Pharmaceuticals

Doug Roy  -  Concerned Residents of East Whiteland

John Snyder  -  Chester Co. Industrial Development Auth.

Sue Staas  -  Charlestown Planning Commission

Jeffrey Thomas  -  The Vanguard Group

Terry Woodman  -  Tredyffrin Twp. Board of Supervisors

Project Study Team:

Jeff Davis  -  PA Turnpike Commission

Walt Green  -  PA Turnpike Commission

Christina Hampton  -  PA Turnpike Commission

Jay Roth  -  KCI Technologies, Inc

James Toth  -  STV Incorporated

CAC Facilitation Team

Beverly Burton  -  Key Management Strategies, Inc

Joan Kober  -  Key Management Strategies, Inc

Seth Lieberman  -  Key Management Strategies, Inc

 

INTRODUCTIONS AND PROTOCOL

Seth Lieberman of Key Management Strategies opened the meeting and welcomed everyone. He explained that KMS has been retained to help facilitate a series of Citizens Advisory Committee meetings to be held over the course of the next year. Seth offered his appreciation to everyone who has made the commitment to serve on the committee. His telephone conferences with members before tonight’s meeting were very informative. He learned that people had diverse views on the slip ramps project – many of which concerned quality of life issues.

Tonight’s meeting is larger than usual as all members and alternates were asked to attend so that logistics, roles and protocol could be explained. Future sessions will be smaller working meetings where differences of opinion can be more easily discussed.

Seth introduced assistant facilitator, Beverly Burton of KMS, and highlighted her extensive experience in working with Citizens Advisory Committees on a wide range of PennDOT projects. He also introduced Joan Kober, another KMS staff member, who will be taking minutes at all meetings.

Also introduced were Jeff Davis, Walt Green and Christina Hampton of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, James Toth of STV Incorporated and Jay Roth of KCI Technologies.

Seth then asked all committee members and alternates to introduce themselves and mention the organizations that they represented.

Seth highlighted the following agenda items for tonight’s meeting:
  • Introductions
  • Citizens Advisory Committee’s (CAC’s) goals
  • Review of ground rules
  • Gain agreement on process moving forward
  • Overview of current studies to date by members of the project team
  • Discussion: what does CAC need from project team and what does the project team need from the CAC
  • Schedule of future meetings
  • Future meeting topics
Seth emphasized that although the CAC is not an official government group, it is an important committee with the following goals:
  • To represent and communicate to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission the ideas and concerns of the Chester County community about the slip ramp proposal
  • To provide information to CAC members regarding the slip ramp proposal
  • To discuss issues and ideas freely, openly and respectfully in order to solve problems and gain understanding

Seth continued by explaining that CAC’s often come up with solutions that project committees miss. That is the hope for this CAC.

When Seth requested questions from the floor, a committee member asked , "Who will be listening?" A PA Turnpike Commission representative explained that all discussions of the CAC will become part of the documentation on the project so that many of the concerns brought to light can be addressed.

Seth discussed the importance of setting clear ground rules and operating procedures for CAC meetings. These are noted below:

Operating Procedures
  • Approximately 6 CAC meetings will be held over the next 12 months
  • All CAC members will have the opportunity to express their points of view and share ideas in an atmosphere of mutual respect and consideration.
  • Disagreements will be expressed in a mutually respectful way, and will be viewed as problems to be solved. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.
Meeting Agenda and Meeting Minutes
  • Committee members will participate in recommending topics to include in future meeting agendas.
  • Time will be allotted at the end of each meeting to discuss and recommend agenda items for the following meeting.
  • Minutes will be taken at each CAC meeting. Meeting minutes will be distributed to all CAC members within 10 days following the meeting.
  • Committee members will review the meeting minutes. Suggested modifications of the minutes will be sent to Joan Kober of Key Management Strategies. She can be contacted by fax at 215-887-9121, by e-mail at jkober@keymgt.com or by phone at 215-887-8775. During each meeting, the prior meeting’s minutes will be reviewed for approval by the CAC.
  • Any corrections to the meeting minutes will be approved by the Committee and, when appropriate, a revised copy of the minutes will be distributed to all members.

Seth went on to describe the roles of all participants involved in the CAC process.

The Role of the Facilitator
  • Open all meetings
  • Maintain balanced participation and create an environment where all members have the opportunity to express their views
  • Ensure that people are listened to and treated with respect
  • Keep meeting topics focused and moving according to the agenda and ensure that all points on the agenda are covered unless there is consensus from committee members to omit, revise or postpone topics
  • Manage differences of opinion and help the group work toward an appreciation of each person’s point of view
  • Monitor the time during each meeting, and close the meeting
The Role of the Committee Member
  • Participate and represent their point of view (and/or the points of view of the constituents they represent)
  • Listen to other points of view and discuss differences of opinion without being disruptive
  • Exchange ideas and learn from others in an effort to achieve mutual understanding
  • Offer suggestions and assist in problem solving efforts
  • Attend meetings or designate an alternate representative when appropriate
  • CAC members agree that any views they express will be attributed to them or their own groups, and not to the CAC, the project team or the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
The Role of the Project Study Team
  • Keep committee members informed of the project status
  • Provide project information and updates to the committee
  • Solicit input and feedback from committee members regarding project issues and concerns
  • Provide answers to questions and provide requested technical data
  • Coordinate agency participation

A member of the project team responded to a question from a CAC member about PennDOT representation at CAC meetings. It is up to the PA Turnpike Commission to coordinate with PennDOT and a representative can attend meetings if CAC feels that is needed.

After roles were defined, Seth asked if there was any discussion of role definitions. There were no comments made.

Project Update

Jeff Davis presented an overview of current studies to date concerning slip ramps:
  • Turnpike began looking at slip ramps in 1996 as a way to improve access without building full blown interchanges
  • These ramps would utilize EZ pass only.
  • Turnpike originally looked at over 90 locations for potential placement of slip ramps – now considering approximately 3 ramps – 1 of them at Route 29
  • Initial slip ramps will be up and running at Fort Washington Interchange by fall of 2000 – these will be closely monitored as the pilot program for slip ramps
  • Turnpike feels the ramps will be a big success
  • Met with Chester County Planning Commission on February 10, 1999 to discuss how slip ramps would fit in with their Landscape Plan
  • Public Officials & Public Meetings were held on February 25, 1999
  • After the public meeting, displays were sent to 4 townships and the county.
  • Information presented tonight will be about the same as the information presented at the public meeting as nothing much new has happened since then in terms of moving the project forward
  • Formation of CAC is in response to some of the issues raised at the Public Officials and Public Meeting

.A committee member asked if EZ Pass could get up and running without slip ramps. A project team member responded that EZ Pass will be up and running before a decision is made on constructing any other slip ramps other than the two Fort Washington ramps.

Another committee member suggested that if traffic problems exist at the Valley Forge Interchange, why not solve the problems there. A project team member explained that work to enhance and improve the Valley Forge Interchange will begin next spring. Construction work to be initiated on bridges over Phoenixville Pike and Route 29 has been separated from the Route 29 slip ramp project.

Route 29 Slip Ramp Alternatives

Walt Green presented the preliminary design of three build alternatives for the slip ramps.
  • 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.
A committee member asked Walt to explain the lines of different colors on the diagrams. He explained that dark pinks are potential hazardous waste sites, dark green is agricultural lands, green is wetlands, dark brown buildings are historic sites and purple areas are potential archaeological sites.
  • 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

Each alternative impacts one historic building, two potential archaeological sites and no endangered species. There are no residential displacements and only .03 of an acre of wetlands are affected.

A committee member asked if there was an estimate of which alternate is easier and less expensive from an engineering viewpoint. Walt Green said this was difficult to estimate with complete accuracy, but the general feeling is that the fly over would be the most expensive while the diamond would be the least expensive.

A committee member commented that it was not specified how the watershed of Valley Creek would be affected. A member of the project team indicated that the watershed issue could be addressed at a future meeting.

A member of the project team stated that Tredyffrin doesn’t like the idea of introducing a grade level ramp, which would create a lot of traffic on Yellow Springs Road. One of the alternatives that has been considered has been prohibiting traffic from coming onto Yellow Springs Road from Route 29.

A committee member asked if the Turnpike Commission is locked in to the three alternatives that have been presented. A member of the project team stated that the CAC could certainly suggest other alternatives.

A committee member asked if it is always necessary to have an on and off ramp at the same location. Walt Green answered that it could be very difficult to put slip ramps in different locations — this could result in a greater impact on residential areas.

Traffic Study Overview

Jay Roth presented a comprehensive report on traffic issues that impact the proposed slip ramps. Jay made the following key points:
  • According to a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article – over the past 20 years there has been a 20% increase in population in PA, a 30% increase in drivers and a 70% increase in miles driven. During the same 20 year time frame, road capacity only increased 3%. Today’s traffic engineering focus on relieving congestion is to make existing roadways more efficient through the use of technology.
  • In the traffic study the year 2000 was used as the opening year for slip ramps. Comparisons of traffic conditions with and without slip ramps were then made.
  • DVRPC projected out to the year 2020 to look at impact on traffic conditions in a build and no build situation. The project team used 2000 and 2020 traffic volumes to predict 2010 conditions so that improvements could be recommended to accommodate approximately ten years of growth.
  • A committee member asked about the data used to develop these projections. Jay explained that models used are updated every 2 years with the best available traffic, demographic and development information supplied by the municipalities through the county planning commission to DVRPC.
  • Graphics shown tonight are the same as those shown at public meetings earlier in the year.
  • In studying each of the slip ramp alternatives and the impact that each would have on the roadways, there is not much of a difference between them. Drivers would still be using the same roadway network under each scenario.

A member of the project team indicated that roadway/intersection widening, upgrading and installation of signals would be necessary to accommodate the proposed traffic volumes. Coordination with PennDOT and developers must take place to determine ultimate roadway volumes and improvements.

A project team member explained that EZ Pass would be in operation from exit 18 to exit 33 by fall of 2000. The only slip ramps in operation by then will be those at the Fort Washington Interchange.

Questions from Committee Members

A committee member asked if there was any data on how through put has improved with EZ Pass. A project team member answered that it has Increased through put by 2 to 3 times. The committee member also asked how the usage of EZ Pass increases as people get used to it. Jeff Davis answered that there is typically a 25% penetration initially, but that usage generally goes up as drivers become accustomed to the process.

Another committee member asked whether developments that aren’t built are included in the traffic model. Many of these developments are just starting up and are probably not included in the model, but could have a significant impact on the traffic situation. Jeff Davis stated that analyses of these impacts have not been included in the model. Walt Green mentioned that there is a lot of new office construction proposed. Jay Roth agreed to find out exactly what has and has not been included in the model. The same committee member also mentioned that there is a need to look at residential development that is likely to occur in the next few years.

A committee member stated that many more workers will be traveling into the area to work in proposed new office spaces. He asked about accommodating all this new traffic. Walt Green stated that park and ride lots are being studied. Walt continued by saying that slip ramps are only a tool that have to go with other tools – however, you have to start somewhere and do something.

Another committee member expressed her feeling that an official from PennDOT was needed at CAC meetings. Seth indicated that he would try to get a PennDOT official involved.

A committee member reiterated the fact that there is a need to find out exactly what numbers were included in the development of the traffic model. There didn’t seem to be anything on the displays about Swedesford Road. That area needs to be addressed.

A committee member representing the Greater Valley Forge TMA reported that this organization has been actively involved in traffic related discussions with developers, the Turnpike and PennDOT for several years so the process is underway. Much of the discussion has been centered around resolving issues related to Phoenixville Pike and Route 29. The CAC provides a forum for discussion of some things that have already happened.

A committee member strongly supported the construction of slip ramps, but felt that an integrated transportation strategy was needed. He would like to have a number of agencies at a meeting to address what’s going to be happening between now and 2020. The committee would then be in a better position to make some intelligent recommendations.

A committee member asked about the effect of slip ramps on the Landscape Plan. She also inquired about the model used to project new usage. Jeff Davis answered that volume increase is shown on the build projections. Walt Green added that it has been very difficult to get those accurate numbers.

A committee member noted that PennDOT’s 12 year plan has been mentioned in discussions. It would be helpful to have a copy of that plan.

Another member stated that if we get any numbers on induced traffic, he’d like to know everything that went into creating those numbers. Another member said it was mind boggling to come up with those kinds of numbers.

A committee member asked about the accuracy of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s (DVRPC’s) projected traffic numbers. Jay Roth explained that there is always publicity about the failures – like the Blue Route – but never anything about the successes. He went on to explain that the Exton bypass is an example of an accurate prediction. DVRPC uses the most advanced transportation models in the country and, therefore, comes up with the best educated predictions currently available. DVRPC provides the regional model – they try to calibrate every two years.

Walt Green stated that within one or two years of the installation of slip ramps at the Fort Washington Interchange, studies of usage will be initiated to evaluate the accuracy of DVRPC numbers.

A committee member pointed out that there has been no discussion about improvements on Routes 202, 76 and other roads. He asked if there were any estimates on how those improvements would impact the area. Jeff Davis stated that this data is included in the model out to 2020. These improvements could have a very positive impact by drawing some traffic away from the turnpike.

A committee member asked if an adjacency study has been done on Route 30 as it’s impossible to move on that road now. Jay Roth replied that the study does not go out that far. Jay said that he would check with DVRPC about Route 30 impact.

A committee member asked if DVRPC models take into account telecommuting and staggered starting times. He asked if the project team could provide this information.

Another member asked if there was a matrix available indicating varying traffic volume at Valley Forge Interchange. Jeff Davis stated that this information is available.

SUMMARY OF QUESTIONS PRESENTED TO PROJECT TEAM

Seth Lieberman summarized the questions presented to the project team at tonight’s meeting:
  • What is the impact of the project on the watershed at Valley Creek?
  • Can the CAC generate other alternatives?
  • Will construction of slip ramps result in more traffic in the area?
  • Do traffic models account for residential development?
  • Have multi-modal solutions to traffic problems been considered?
  • Can representatives from other agencies (PennDOT, Septa and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission) attend meetings so committee can view a comprehensive, global traffic strategy ?
  • What is the impact of the project on Landscapes?
  • Can we get a traffic study of numbers by zip codes?
  • Can we see PennDOT’s 12 year plan?
  • Have telecommuting and staggered starts/flex time been taken into consideration?
  • Can we see data on traffic volumes at various times of day at the Valley Forge Interchange and elsewhere?
  • What is a reasonable expectation of the take-away from the CAC meetings – (e.g., additional alternatives)?
REQUESTS FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
  • Handout level copies of traffic maps as it’s difficult to read displays from a distance.
  • A roster of everyone on the committee including telephone, fax and e-mail numbers.
  • Provide members with an index or list of studies that have been performed on project over the years and a short executive summary of each. Have a way in which members can easily gain access to this information. When these documents are provided by the Turnpike Commission, they can be kept at the County Planning Commission office.

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION AT FUTURE MEETINGS

  • Non-slip ramp transportation issues that impact the area so the committee can concentrate on how slip ramps fit in to the overall picture.
  • Discuss alternative slip ramp proposals (in both directions) that could make sense
  • Discuss pros and cons of the slip ramps -- need to know what people in the community are thinking.
  • Discuss a comprehensive view of what’s going on in transportation in the area. – possibly a one time informational session so we can focus on the goal of the CAC

NEXT MEETING

Reminder: Unlike the first meeting, future meetings are designed for full CAC members. If you are unable to attend a meeting, please ensure that your alternate can attend in your place.

Date: Tuesday, November 9, 1999

Time: 7:00 P.M.

Location:
Desmond Great Valley Hotel
One Liberty Boulevard
Malvern, PA 19355
(610) 296-9800
 
Minutes prepared by:
Joan Kober

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