East Falls Local

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PennDOT Part 1: Summary & Slideshow

Miss the big meeting about Henry Avenue last week? Here’s our run-thru with just the facts, kids. 

Wow you will not believe the video from this meeting! East Falls locals came out in full force to confront certain members of Community Council’s traffic committee, and push for an end to our 2-year stalemate for basic improvements on Henry Avenue. Really an amazing meeting…

Before clips and commentary, here’s a quick summary of PennDOT’s PowerPoint presentation. We wish we had a link for you, but we did our best to photograph all the key slides, and we also scanned the materials PennDOT provided at the meeting.

IN BRIEF
(scroll for slideshow, but these notes first will probably help)

In February 2016, PennDOT reviewed Henry Avenue’s traffic/safety issues and came up with five possible plans (including doing nothing) that they presented to Community Council’s traffic committee.

That May, the traffic committee members asked PennDOT to reconsider roundabouts and also entertain the idea of cutting down on the number of lanes thru East Falls (aka a “road diet“).

PennDOT agreed to review two more possible plans based on the traffic committee’s recommendations — combinations of roundabout/road diet plans with added signals/safety measures.

At last week’s public meeting, PennDOT reviewed all seven options in a PowerPoint presentation, explaining pros and cons of each. Their clear favorite was #5, which includes signal enhancements and other safety measures that do not require re-engineering the road.

PennDOT feels that the changes suggested in Plan #5 will improve safety by 24% with no reduction in Henry Avenue’s “Level of Service” — that is, its ability to maintain current capacity. FUN FACT: all of the roundabout plans are rated “F” for LOS.

In addition to major signage/signal changes at Schoolhouse & Midvale intersections, Plan #5 includes bumpouts and curb extensions, plus other tweaks to certain curves (like the “pork chop” at Warden). Additional improvements were proposed, too, such as timed red light cameras and radar speed signs to help keep drivers alert.

Further modifications could include curb reflectors, pavement resurfacing, concrete medians… PennDOT’s got a whole list. All these options from #2 to #7  are detailed in the two “Alternatives Analysis” slides below, enjoy:

To appreciate the meeting (we think), you really need to see the back & forth when the floor opened up for audience comments. (watch the subtitled highlights in Part Two). Despite some theatrics, in the end, the majority called for a “sense of the room” vote where like 80 – 90% of the crowd voted in favor of Plan #5 as a fine first step to address Henry as soon as possible.

Traffic committee chair John Gillespie followed up the next day, announcing that the members agree as long as they retain the right to suggest changes before the plan is implemented. BTW, all neighbors have this right (hope you got your comments into PennDOT!).

What’s Next? PennDOT will take all comments into consideration before presenting the next phase of their plan for further public feedback soon. Please note: agreeing to PennDOT’s safety improvements does not mean that more radical options can’t be considered again in the future — perhaps thru PennDOT Connects (a community planning program).

Annnnnd… discuss! Comment below or email us to continue the conversation. Contributors always welcome for posts of all lengths! Open to all opinions supported by links and facts of the non-alternative kind.

SPEAKING OF: If you’ve ever wanted to aggregate accident data on Henry Ave for specific traffic, time of day, road conditions, etc, check out the Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool. Thanks, PennDOT!

For video clips and commentary, please see Part Two: Caught on Camera.

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9 Comments

  1. Brian

    No roundabouts get my vote. Option 5 is my vote.

  2. Brian

    And by the way folks, photos of these presentation slides and the summary are brought to you the camera that some of you hate.

  3. Kevin Todd

    Sorry, I missed the meeting. What’s the status of bike lanes? Were they discussed at all? Could they be incorporated into plan #5?

    • Carolyn Fillmore

      Hi, Kevin! They didn’t say a whole lot about bike lanes at the meeting, wish I had more to share but I’ll keep my eye out for it as I go thru the commentary. Meanwhile, be sure to relay your preferences about bike lanes to PennDOT by emailing Casey asap (deadline for comments is tomorrow). Cheers!

  4. Todd

    Definitely agree with #5. NO roundabouts!

    • Steve Fillmore

      You’d love their original idea then — seven(!) roundabouts along the 1.4 mile stretch of Henry.

      • Todd

        Higher cost, hundreds of trees cut, buildings modified, reduced level of service, and maneuvering multiple roundabouts. What’s not to love? SMH.

  5. John Baxter

    Whatever plan is chosen, it should not restrict traffic or punish the majority of safe drivers. Lest we forget, most people don’t speed or drive erratically. Plan 5 and maintaining a good level of service is the best concept. Bike lanes would be great, provided they can be put in without eliminating any traffic lanes or having a significant effect on level of service.

  6. Snarky Fallser

    I want my option: Two lane Henry Avenue, bike lanes everywhere, 18 roundabouts, pedestrian bridge, red light cameras, radar signs, speed bumps every 25 yards, and trees in the middle of the road!

    JK, thanks for the info. And hopefully #5 wins the day.

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