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Letters to the Herald

Proposed US 1 changes pose environmental concerns for people living in Langhorne Borough


While I applaud efforts by PennDOT to make US1 safer, I worry about the proposed cloverleaf plan that will direct additional traffic through Langhorne Borough. I worry not only because of what this will mean for the safety of people trying to cross Route 413 (Pine Street) and Route 213 (Maple Avenue) to reach the Mayor’s Playground, Pennswood Library, two churches and our many neighbors who live across Route 413 … but also for its negative impact on our environment, in particular, air quality.
PennDOT’s proposed cloverleaf and their concomitant elimination of many exits and entrances off Route 1 will direct all traffic onto Route 413 through Langhorne Borough. It will produce additional traffic, stacked up and idling, trying to pass through the intersection of Route 413 and Route 213 in the borough, making air pollution worse.
Research (Zhang et al., 2011) has shown that vehicles tend to emit more pollutants in stop-and-start driving, e.g., when transitioning between free-flow and congested conditions. These pollutants take time to disperse and end up accumulating in the air at traffic lights. This will mean increased exposure to air pollutants for people living near the roadway intersection (Kumar et al., 2016). These pollutants include the small particulate matter in diesel fumes as well as the nitrogen dioxide it produces — both of which have been linked to negative impacts on health conditions such as asthma and other respiratory illnesses as well as risk for heart attack (Kaufman et al., 2016).

According to America’s 2021 State Health Rankings, Pennsylvania already ranks 41st out of the 50 states in terms of air pollution based on average exposure of the public to small particulate matter. The PennDOT proposal to direct traffic onto Route 413 at the new cloverleaf will only make matters worse in Langhorne Borough. In 2021, the World Health Organization concluded from a review of research that air pollution is “the single largest environmental threat to human health and well-being.”
Keeping the multiple entrances and exits off Route 1 as proposed by the Langhorne Borough Planning Commission makes more sense for limiting the concentration of air pollutants in any given area.
Bernadette West, Langhorne Borough