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A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The thrill isn't gone in Tredyffrin.

"That looks like a lot of fun," I thought, as I watched a video of cars travelling through a single-lane roundabout.

Tredyffrin Township Engineer Steve Burgo was showing this video to the supervisors, and the public, so they could get a better idea of what a roundabout is.

This was at the supervisors' July 16, 2007 meeting, just after township staff told us they thought it would be a good idea to put a roundabout at the doglegged intersection of North Valley and Swedesford roads. After Burgo's presentation, and a heated dialogue with residents, the supervisors voted 4-3 to encourage staff to continue to spend money on designing the roundabout.

Some, but not all, of the Great Valley's residents were angry. Township staff had been planning to alter this intersection for years, and they didn't like it. Any change to the intersection, they argued, would ruin the character of their bucolic neighborhood. How? By eating up green space and by encouraging more motorists to drive on North Valley and Swedesford roads. Residents also complained that the project would cost taxpayers too much money -- the state and the township were to share the bill, which township staff estimated would be around $2 million.

In the November election, Paul Drucker, one of the roundabout's supporters, lost. At year's end, another supporter, E. Brooks Keffer, retired. And on February 25, the supervisors voted 5-2 to kill the roundabout plan. In doing so, they also relinquished the money PennDOT was offering to help pay for alterations to the intersection. You can read about this vote in Chris Williams' article.

If you haven't traveled through this intersection, here's what it can be like: You're driving south on North Valley Road, a narrow, wooded route that runs from Phoenixville to Paoli. You go over a historic bridge, come to a stop sign, and suddenly the road ends. But it's not supposed to... so where did it go? Oh, there it is, 150 feet to the right. You angle your car so you can see the traffic speeding by on Swedesford Road. Since that traffic doesn't have a stop sign, you have to wait for a break before you slam on the gas and navigate your car to the other part of North Valley Road.

This can be kind of exhilarating. Especially since, due to a hill, you can't see the vehicles coming east on Swedesford until they're within seconds of hitting you.

On my way to Tredyffrin Township meetings, I used to navigate this intersection for fun, just to see if I'd make it. I called this "research" -- at the time I was writing articles about the township's plan to alter the intersection.

Although I'd developed an awed respect for the intersection, I found the idea of a roundabout intriguing. Cars travelling in a circle, yielding to each other, exiting at the correct road -- it'd be almost like an automotive dance. I would've travelled through that thing every day, whether or not I had business in Tredyffrin Township.

You know what? Opponents of the roundabout had a point -- it would've brought more traffic to the Great Valley, and not just because I'd be playing in it all the time.

I guess I'll have to settle for the occasional thrill of watching the tachometer in my Toyota Matrix shoot up to 5,000 RPMs as I try to jet from one side of Great Valley Road to the other.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a daily user of this intersection, I would not like to see a roundabout although I do not know what would make this hairy intersection safer. I doubt that a roundabout would cause an increase in travel. I live off of north valley and have no choice but to use it several times a day. I am sure that is true of most of its users. After the commercial/residential development center near the new Wegmans site is competed this intersection will be even more of a problem and the traffic on Swedesford will be so bad that a simple roundabout will not solve the problem. I would expect that some day the bucolic feeling of this stretch of road will have to yield to commerce and everyone's desire/need to move faster and safer.

March 16, 2008 12:32 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, drive that intersection daily and many times with kids on board. I am always appreciative of the courtesy of other drivers at that intersection - particularly at the morning and evening rush hours.
I agree with the supervisors who finally took this off the table. I believe the intersection should remain unchaged and that we need to keep the character of our neighborhood in tact and beautiful and not jumbo size it for the masses to overtake the roads. The vast majority of people at the last supervisors meeting where this was discussed agreed - as did the neighbors who live on that intersection. As one man stated about the Conestoga intersection, if you want people to drive safely in your neighborhood-you need to drive safely in theirs. It is my belief that the drivers need to take responsibility for driving safely on that road. I thank the supervisors for listening to all of the people who spoke in favor of leaving the intersection alone - it was a huge crowd that supported that.

April 22, 2008 7:56 AM 

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