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Make Willow-Sauerkraut Intersection Safer

There have been many complaints regarding the intersection at Willow and Sauerkraut lanes over the past few years.

Recently there was another letter regarding Willow and Sauerkraut lanes on the agenda at a BOC meeting. There have been many over the past few years. This issue will now be in the forefront with the elimination of busing to Willow Lane Elementary for students who live nearby the school. 

The best solution for this intersection in my opinion is a modern round-about. This intersection is only an issue during peak traffic times. One benefit of a modern round-about (of many) is that it causes almost no delay during off peak periods while efficiently managing traffic flow during peak times. Additionally study after study has shown it is by far and away the safest pedestrian option when designed with islands. (See photo)

Here is a link to PENNDOT's informational page - All about roundabouts

It's my understanding that this location is perfect for a round-about from an engineering standpoint given the area available. 

Roundabout facts:
Roundabouts are not the same as traffic circles

Pedestrian Safety - Statistics show these are much safer for pedestrians then signals since they reduce points of conflict. This is especially true when they feature safety islands where pedestrians can pause mid-crossing. (See diagram) This is really very simple. You enter the crosswalk and look left for on-coming traffic. You then enter a safe island and look right. Very simple and very safe. 

Aesthetics - They also simply look much nicer. This is an attractive area in the center of the township. The center island could be used for a planting, landscaping or civic art.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ron Beitler June 28, 2012 at 12:47 PM
FYI I just added a youtube clip above that further explains roundabouts. It includes a similiar roundabout that reflects IMO what one could potentially look like at Willow and Saurkraut. This includes Crosswalks removed from the round-about and pedestrian islands at the crosswalks. This is THE absolute safest option for the intersection and makes the most sense for the community and motorists who have to traverse this intersection on a daily basis. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0RcTWEBtYM
Mariella Savidge June 28, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Thanks, Ron!
Scott Alderfer June 28, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I think it's a great idea, Ron. And since there are probably few of these roundabouts in use so far, maybe PennDOT would be more willing to consider one for this intersection to show off as a model of how well it can work. If I'm not mistaken, both Willow and Sauerkraut fall under PennDOT jurisdiction, so that would take the township out of the mix for having to fund this kind of improvement.
LMTnative June 28, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Looks like a great plan. Now who's going to pay for it and how do we get it implemented?
Ron Beitler June 28, 2012 at 02:05 PM
@ Native - I've been researching this. A big cost for roundabout is usually land acquisition. What makes this location perfect is all the land we need is already owned by either the school district or the township. (roundabouts require slightly more space then a signal). So thats a large cost we wouldn't have to worry about and big reason why this is perfect here. Next you have savings in electricity and signal maintenance. According to the recent LMT budget we're projecting spending 18,000 dollars on signal electric in 2012. (nice thing about a roundabout is the power goes out it still works) Traffic signals cost anywhere between 50-100,000 dollars for initial installation. They then require ongoing maintenance. . . Now the center area of a roundabout needs to be maintained but this can be as simple as mowing. There are options to allow the center to grow with wildflowers/native plantings that require VERY little maintenance. Another option is local clubs or organizations can take up maintenance of a central flower bed or focal point as a service project or in exchange for sponsorship.
Robert Smigielski June 28, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Good plan and glad that this ONE intersection is being examined. However the school is surrounded on 4 sides by neighborhoods that send students in on the walking path. So there are actually 4 intersections which need to have traffic control because the roads Willow Lane, Mill Creek Road, Mill Creek Spur, and Sauerkraut are all set to 35 MPH with cars going over that limit at times. Each of those intersections needs a controlled way to walk from the neighborhoods across these fast paced busy roads. I live there and exercise on these paths, I know the daily traffic patterns make it very difficult for kids ages 5-11 years old to cross. The town and ESPD has to look at the total picture NOT just one intersection.
Ron Beitler June 28, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I agree Robert. The reason I am particularly concerned about this one is because I see this as a valid option that not only solves safety concerns for parents, but also concerns for the taxpayer, and the rest of local community that now has to deal with a high volume of traffic during certain times. My point is this is very manageable with a little planning and thought. For the rest of the intersections they need to be involved in the overall study. Crossing guards at multiple strategic points are the best option IMHO.
Scott Alderfer June 28, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Willow Lane and Mill Creek Spur intersection is a joke. It needs some serious engineering. Maybe a roundabout would work there too. Just have to acquire and demolish the ranch house on the corner (whose bushes constitute a line of sight hazard for trying to turn left from Willow onto Mill Creek Spur, in my opinion).
Ron Beitler June 28, 2012 at 03:08 PM
FYI on MillCreek the public safety committee has just recommended a reduction of the speed limit between Spring creek and Saurkraut to 25MPH from 35mph. In the future they may consider the whole corridor to 25mph, from Saurkraut to Willow. I personally think this whole "school corridor" including willow (tougher to accomplish since it's state road) should be 25 mph.
paul confer June 28, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Wiliamsport has 3 roundabouts and they keep traffic moving safely. Here is an article http://thats30.blogspot.com/2008/04/penndots-first-roundabout-in-north.html?m=1
Ron Beitler June 28, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Thanks for that link Paul. Tons of articles about those roundabouts. Looks like they have been successful so far. And the rationale seems to have been the same as why they make sense here. They are intersections that need something... but the volume doesnt warrant the expense or delays of signal.
Don O'Leary July 05, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Have you considered that there is a fire station right next to the school and the size of the trucks that may be going through that intersection during an emergency?
Ron Beitler July 05, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Yes I'll post a video later of an example of a round about with a truck apron. I have a couple more that show firetrucks specifically. FYI in the tragic study from 2010 the price of a sigbalized intersection with turning lanes is 802,000. Roundabout installation significantly cheaper. And requires little ongoing maintenance.
Ron Beitler July 05, 2012 at 07:10 PM
*Traffic not tragic ... iPhone autocorrect
Ron Beitler July 05, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Here Dan - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5dxB-nFEZA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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