John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

12 January 2022 BOS Meeting Summary

North Sycamore Street Pedestrian Safety, Planning Commission Report, Lower Dolington Road Trail Update, December 2021 Police Report, SAFER Grant Application, More...

This is my personal summary of the January 12, 2022, meeting of Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). This is not a complete nor an official summary.

Access the 2021 BOS Voting Record (UNOFFICIAL).

Agenda items:

Planning Commission Report

Planning Commission Chair Peggy Driscoll presented a report regarding the Commission's review of Arcadia’s Highway Occupancy Permit Application for a U-turn at the intersection of Bucks Road and Mill Pond Drive. Recall that the township and residents felt this U-turn would be unsafe and the Township originally rejected Arcadia's plan to build 65 homes due to this safety issue (read "Petition From Residents of Newtown Crossing Regarding Access Options to Arcadia Green: Tell PennDOT no U-turn at Millpond & Buck Rd"). You can also find her report in my meeting notes.

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North Sycamore St Pedestrian Safety

Several pedestrian safety measures for N Sycamore St recommended by the township traffic engineers were approved for immediate implementation (see below). In addition, the engineers and township were instructed to move ahead to explore other measures. This was in response to many recent incidents including a fatal auto/pedestrian crash, which occurred in the 200 block of N. Sycamore Street on December 22, 2021 (read "Dangerous Crossing"). View the video of the discussion including resident comments:

According to township traffic engineers, "based on a review of recent crash data it was noted that a total of 42 crashes were report along the Sycamore Street Corridor between 2016 and 2021. Of those 42 total crashes, 30 occurred at intersection locations and 12 were classified as mid-block collisions," said the engineers.

Crashes are occuring at a higher rate than would be expected for a roadway such as this, said the engineers. Furthermore, the crashes involved injuries or fatalities and/or were serious enough to require towing of cars according to the engineers. They were not mere "fender benders."

The engineers recommended the following:

  1. Lighting – Upgrade the existing incandescent street lighting to include brighter LED fixtures. [The BOS instructed the township to implement this recommendation ASAP.]
  2. Crosswalks - Replace the existing decorative brick crosswalks with high visibility pavement markings (black and white piano key pattern). Studies have shown this type of crosswalk is much more visible to drivers (read "Crosswalk Visibility Study"). [The township is already implementing this suggestion as shown below.]
Newtown Township Public Works Department working on adding
"piano" striping to crosswalks at Sycamore & Silo Dr on January 13, 2022.
  1. Signing and Pavement Markings – Evaluate all existing signing and pavement markings. Update as needed to meet current MUTCD requirements. A specific focus should be to provide a consistent desig for all marked crosswalk areas. [The BOS instructed the township to implement this recommendation ASAP.]
  2. Unsignalized crosswalks – Consider installing push button activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB; see image below) at the unsignalized crossings at Silo Drive and the mid-block crossing south of Jefferson Street. This upgrade will require a PennDOT permit approval. The use of solar power LEDs for use with RRFB’s and other advanced warning signage should be considered. [The BOS instructed the township engineers to begin communications with PennDOT to pursue this option.]
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons help call attention to pedestrians
in crosswalks.
  1. Sight Distance - Evaluate line of sight conditions at all intersections. Modify on-street parking setback and vegetation as required. [The BOS instructed the township to implement this recommendation ASAP.]
  2. Speed limit - Pursue a reduction from 35 MPH to 25 MPH on Sycamore St. between Swamp Rd and Durham Road. This will require coordination and approval from PennDOT. With PA 532 posted at 45 MPH just beyond Sycamore St, there would need to be changes made on the State roadway segment to properly accommodate a 45 MPH to 25 MPH reduction. [The BOS instructed the township engineers to begin communications with PennDOT to pursue this option.]
  3. Traffic Calming- If the posted speed limit is reduced to 25 MPH, traffic calming devices such as speed tables or raises crosswalks could be considered along the corridor and at unsignalized pedestrian crossing locations. [See #6.]

Prior to the meeting, I submitted to the BOS the Improve Pedestrian Safety on N Sycamore St Petition signed by 850 people from around the world – and at least 570 from the Newtown area.

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SAFER Grant Application

Fire Chief Glenn Forsythe spoke about the reason why he is seeking approval to submit the third application to FEMA for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. Chief Forsythe explained why the grant is important to Newtown. Supervisor asked him why he thought the 3rd time would be the charm. His response was very enlightening:

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My Detailed Notes

Embedded below are my notes that I prepared before the meeting. It includes questions and links to background information and other deatils. You can also download the PDF file.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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