ROUTE 29 SLIP RAMPS

Chester County, Pennsylvania

CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

DRAFT MINUTES

Meeting #1

(Provided by Sue Staas, Alternate Member - Charlestown Twp)

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: Seth emphasized that although the CAC is not an official government group, it is an important committee with the following goals:

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
Meeting Agenda and Meeting Minutes

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

The Role of the Facilitator The Role of the Committee Member The Role of the Project Study Team

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:

.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. 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.

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:

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: REQUESTS FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION AT FUTURE MEETINGS

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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