While a new truck restriction on Dark Hollow Road in a neighboring town seems to already be paying dividends for Tinicum Township residents, calls for action against hazardous speeding on River Road have intensified.
During his monthly report at the Oct. 1 public board of supervisors meeting, township Police Chief Matthew Phelan reported that a new trailer length restriction, posted by PennDOT on Dark Hollow Road in Bedminster, at Tinicum’s request, “seems to have been helpful, as we had zero incidents of stuck tractor trailer trucks in September on the one-lane Golden Pheasant Bridge.”
“What we were finding,” he continued, “was that mostly out-of-state truckers were following 413 North to Dark Hollow Road, and then turning north onto River Road while following their GPS to get to New Jersey. Hopefully, this new restriction will continue to reduce the frequency of stuck trucks on the bridge.”
With more than a dozen residents of River Road in attendance, representing dozens more of their neighbors, Phelan also addressed their concerns about hazardous speeding on River Road, especially between Bridge 3 and Treasure Island.
He noted that PennDOT had already denied a speed limit decrease based on an “85 percentile study” that features crash data and sight distances. The 11 crashes over 10 years didn’t trigger their “warrant system formula” to allow the requested reduction from 40 mph to 30 mph.
But Phelan suggested that a “safe running speed” test might be deployed as an alternative, where a PennDOT employee or contractor drives the route of concern five times in each direction, and comes up with a safe speed.
He especially urged PennDOT consideration of the vicinity in question as a “unique area, with extraordinary characteristics,” featuring grandfathered narrow driveways and developed villages, that didn’t match up well with standardized formulas. He added he had a site visit scheduled with state Rep. Wendy Ullman, toward supporting the appeal to PennDOT. As an alternative to the denied speed limit reduction, PennDOT has instead installed side road intersection signs warning of Smithtown Road, and township officials have already appealed for more signage.
During discussion, residents disagreed with Solicitor Stephen Harris’ contention that their call for township-applied calming markings on the state road could readily risk legal liability problems, and called for research on the subject.
Supervisor Jim Helms said, “Painting the road won’t help much; we need a speed limit reduction, and a change in the state law to allow townships to use radar” to enforce it.
Meanwhile, letters of protest from residents regarding the speeding controversy are being collected for delivery to PennDOT, including to state Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards, and also to Gov. Tom Wolf.