July 3, 2014 at 3:44 AM
The Wood-Vine Connector is in its final stages, headed toward an early Fall 2014 ribbon cutting.
However, before drivers and pedestrians get used to the new Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative route—when completed, it will give drivers a thoroughfare, without stopping, on Vine and Wood streets between Main Street and Broad Street, thereby bypassing any railroad crossings—Pennsylvania Department of Transportation wants to get them used to the new traffic signal at Main and Wood streets and the new pedestrian signal at Main Street and Susquehanna Avenue.
Thus, on July 17, the new traffic signal will go into a yellow-light "flash" mode for seven days, before transitioning to its normal traffic signal operations.
"The light at Wood and Main will be going into a flash period, per PennDOT requirements, two weeks from Thursday," Lansdale Utilities Director Jake Ziegler said at Wednesday's Public Works Committee meeting.
When that is completed, then the steady traffic signal at Main and Susquehanna will be converted to a flashing pedestrian signal on July 24, and will remain as such for a month, per PennDOT requirements for notification. The traffic light will remain in place, but will not stop traffic for pedestrians.
"Pedestrians will be able to actuate the signal, but it's not a signal that's a red signal, so cars know to stop. We are also talking of supplementing that with 'Watch for Pedestrians' signs in the middle of the street," Ziegler said.
By the end of summer, left turns from Susquehanna onto Main Street will be eliminated; the intersection will be right-turn only.
"(There will be a stop sign on Susquehanna at Main), but you won't have actual access to the left-hand lane now. They will all be lured over to the right," Ziegler said.
Susquehanna Avenue will also remain one-way toward Main Street from Derstine Avenue.
Ziegler said that decorative crosswalks and cobra-head streetlights still have to be installed on Vine Street.
The project will wrap up with punchlist items from the contractor and PennDOT.
Resident Cory Brown asked if it is possible for the signal at Main and Susquehanna to turn to a red light when actuated by pedestrians, much like how it is done in Europe.
"In Europe, people walk up to the button, and click the light for a red light. Not only does it let drivers know they are coming up to pedestrians, but they are running a red light simultaneously. Is that something PennDOT would allow us to do?" Brown said.
Ziegler said he would get Brown the answer, and suggested he petition the Public Works and Public Safety committees. He said the signal at Susquehanna, due to its proximity to the Lansdale train station, is tied into the timing for the train crossing.
Committee Chairman Steve Malagari said officials are looking into if there could be an audible signal at the intersection, which would benefit blind pedestrians.
"It's not like this has to be the end-all," said Ziegler.
Wastewater Treatment Supervisor Dan Shinskie told Brown that, since Main and Wood will be a fully-functioning intersection, pedestrians can push a button there to stop traffic and cross Main Street.
Brown said he has experienced aggressive drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians, or even respect signage.
"A location to cross to White's Road Park is so bad, that we set up pedestrian crossing signs, and they run over those," he said. "When they run over pedestrian signs, it clearly passes the message 'Pedestrians Beware,'" Brown said.
Such an issue with traffic and pedestrians is worrying neighbors on Green Street near Vine Street.
Two residents of the unit block of Green Street expressed to the Public Safety Committee their fears with the eventual removal of stop signs on Vine Street at the Green Street intersection.
One of the residents, Betty Riccardi, then spoke to Lansdale Council during its public comment period of it work session Wednesday.
"I implore borough council not to remove the stop signs from Vine Street. But I guess it's out of our hands—(Police Chief Robert McDyre) said PennDOT made the decision for us," she said. "It's a dangerous intersection ... with the library and fire house, it's not a good situation."
Riccardi said it was bad with the SEPTA bus idling on Green Street throughout the day. That issue, council President Jason Van Dame told her, will eventually go away. He said there continues to be a lot of discussion leading into the project.
"We can look at it once it's all finished and the crosswalks are in place. A lot of times, with PennDOT regulations, you are tied to what goes on at the intersections," Van Dame said.