A different kind of road intersection could replace an old, problematic one in Doylestown Township. PennDOT has a roundabout intersection in the works for South Easton Road at New Britain and Sauerman roads.
That is, if supervisors give it a green light.
Two roundabouts would replace the Y-shaped intersection. The roundabouts are proposed to help reduce speeding and accidents on the busy road.
A roundabout is a one-way, circular intersection where cars yield and merge. If constructed, it would be paid for entirely with federal highway safety funds.
PennDOT representatives say about 7,000 cars per day pass through each of intersections.
And to show people what the roundabouts proposed for Doylestown would look like, on Oct. 1, PennDOT consultants presented graphs and plans to help ease some concerns local residents and supervisors may have about the project.
“For most people, it’s about the unfamiliarity. There are not many roundabouts nearby,” said Mike Mastaglio of Urban Engineers, Inc. consulting firm based in Philadelphia.
The project is in the infancy planning stage where Penn DOT will receive input from members of the community.
Mastaglio said that the initiative, started in 2017, was designed to identify roundabout locations as they were federal highway proven safety counter measures.
Consultants initially appeared at the March 20, 2018 meeting of the supervisors.
Mastaglio said officials hope the roundabouts would make the intersections safer without forcing vehicles to come to a complete stop, helping to relive speed and sight distance issues.
Mastaglio said a traffic signal also had been considered for the roads, which get just shy of 10,000 vehicles per day, but he said the potential roundabout option was selected because of the available funding.
The representatives said that motorists wouldn’t be able to move through the roundabout at more than 25 miles per hour.
“The problem with a traffic signal is we get a lot of broadside and rear-end accidents there,” said. “Nationally, they’ve found that roundabouts are much safer, Mastaglio said.
The study looked at crash data and history.
The intersection averaged 20 “angle crashes,” five head-on crashes annually and ranked 43 among the most dangerous intersections in the county from 2010 to 2014.
“To improve that intersection, to put turn lanes in ... you’re around $350,000 by the time you signalize the section and do the improvements,” Mastaglio said. “To put a roundabout in, it’s about $400,000.”
PennDOT is looking for a favorable response by Doylestown Township officials, in order to move the project along.
Officials had a week to decide Mastaglio said. If supervisors oppose the project, PennDOT will move on to another location in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Supervisor Ken Snyder said, “I have a few questions to review with the township professionals and chief of police before deciding If I am for or against the project. I know there is a short time frame to respond so I will collect the information within a week”.
“Safety is a main concern of all of the members on the board of supervisors,” said supervisor Vice Chairman Rick Colello.
Colello said, “To divert over 14,000 cars a day during a one-year construction period onto other roads, Wells road for example, will be a tremendous burden for our residents. The six or seven impatient drivers of today will be impatient drivers during the construction period and impatient drivers after the roundabouts are constructed.
“To spend a couple of million dollars for this project is not prudent. PennDOT certainly has other intersections in our commonwealth where they could better spend our tax dollars.”
Residents who spoke said they were glad to see something being done with the intersection given its accident history, adding that they feel that the area has enough traffic lights.
If approved, the roundabouts would be completed by 2023.
According to the Doylestown Township’s website, “There are 33 miles of State roads within Doylestown Township,” all of which are “maintained by PennDOT.”
“The PennDOT presentation was professional and informative giving the board the data, reasoning and timelines it needs to make an informed decision,” said Supervisor Chair Barbara Lyons. “We are soliciting comment from the residents and local businesses so we hope your readers will be in touch with us by sending an email to doylestownpa.org.”