Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Great Valley Association

Seeking Support for Transportation Funding Bill from PA State Rep. Warren Kampf (R-157)

The infrastructure in Pennsylvania is in trouble and our roads, bridges, tunnels and transit systems are not going to fix themselves – they need funding.

Earlier this year the PA Senate passed a $2.5 billion transportation funding proposal but the House has yet to vote on the measure … but time is running short for the state lawmakers to make a decision about the transportation funding bill. When elected officials return to Harrisburg on Tuesday, November 12, following their election recess, they only have about 10 session days to get the bill to Gov. Corbett for his signature before the end of the year.

Most of the money (approximately $1.9 billion) in the transportation bill would go for road, bridge and tunnel improvements with an additional $500 million earmarked for mass transit projects. In April 2011, I cited a newly released Transportation of America study that named Pennsylvania as first in the nation for having the “largest percentage of structurally deficient bridges”. Without additional funding, the structurally deficient bridges are likely to be weight-restricted, and in some cases, closed. Beyond the obvious travel difficulties (and potential safety risks) for motorists, the deteriorating infrastructure is no boon to the state’s economic situation.

Of particular interest in the transportation funding bill is the $500 million component marked for mass transit – one would think that the Paoli Transit Center project would be a candidate. The long and winding road for the Paoli Transit Center looks to now hinge on receiving funding from the proposed transportation bill. According to Tredyffrin Township Manager Bill Martin, in a MLMN article last month, “If the state can’t meet its current infrastructure needs, all new transportation projects – including Paoli’s – will be held up. Funding brings in more funding. Without state dollars for the project, we can’t get federal dollars and we won’t be able to make deals with private developers.”

Beyond the Paoli redevelopment project, the Tredyffrin residents whose properties are close to the PA Turnpike, specifically in the Great Valley, Chesterbrook and Glenhardie areas, are seeing the turnpike widening and sound wall plan ‘on hold’ pending the passage of the transportation funding bill. The PA Turnpike Commissioners have not approved their fiscal year 2014 Capital Plan that contains the turnpike widening and associated sound walls in Tredyffrin Township. According to a recent email that I received as a member of the PA Turnpike Design Roundtable, “The delay in the [Capital Plan] approval is linked to the ongoing negotiations for statewide transportation funding. … Hopefully, transportation funding will be address in the near future, and a fiscal year 2014 Capital Plan will be approved.”

The proposed transportation bill that is waiting for approval from State lawmakers significantly impacts two major Tredyffrin Township projects – the Paoli Transit Center and the PA Turnpike (in addition to the improvement of state roads and bridges in the township). The bill overwhelmingly cleared the Senate in June, what is it going to take for the lawmakers in the House to approve it and send it on to Gov. Corbett for his signature?

Low approval ratings and a challenging reelection battle looming, has Corbett stumping for the passage of the transportation bill. According to the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll (October 2013), only one in five registered voters (20%) in Pennsylvania approve of the job that Corbett is doing and 61 percent believe that the state is “off on the wrong track”. You have to think that the passage of a $2.5 billion transportation bill that would improve roads, bridges and transit systems could help boost the Governor’s sagging approval ratings.

State representatives Warren Kampf (R-157) and Duane Milne (R-167) each have a section of the PA Turnpike in their Districts and likewise their Districts overlap in the Paoli redevelopment project. And like Governor Corbett, Republicans Kampf and Milne are both up for reelection in 2014. Milne is on record as supporting the transportation bill, stating in Main Line Suburban, “Without a substantial transportation bill, there is close to zero chance that the Paoli project gets funded in anywhere close to the foreseeable future. Our state is near the bottom in terms of its roads and transportation system. There is no revenue stream that will let us do first-class upgrades to our roads and infrastructure. If there’s no bill, it’s going to hurt our ability to do new projects like Paoli. We’ll be looking at the status quo or at a declining status quo.”

On the other hand, Kampf has been vocal in his opposition of the proposed transportation bill, at least in its present form. Although Kampf in not questioning the need for infrastructure improvements, he objects to lifting the tax ceiling on gas wholesalers that would then be passed onto consumers as a means of paying for transportation improvements. According to his Op-Ed article on TE Patch, Kampf states that the, “passage of this legislation as it is today offers no guarantees for the future of that, or any other, local project.” We know that there is no guarantee on project allocation in the funding bill but there is a flipside to this argument — What happens to the Paoli Transit Center project if the currently proposed transportation bill passes the House without Kampf’s signature?

With neighboring District state representatives at odds over the transportation bill, this could be the death knell for our local train station redevelopment project. If the bill passes without Kampf’s support it seems probable that the funding for the Paoli Transit Center is likely to be used elsewhere

I understand that Rep. Kampf does not want to increase taxes and is particularly concerned about what the increase in gas tax could mean to seniors, families, and small businesses that are already struggling. Kampf claims that the majority of the constituents who have contacted him do not support an increase in gas taxes to fund road, bridges and transit system improvements. As one of his constituents, I disagree. If he spoke to the 4,000 residents in the Great Valley, Chesterbrook and Glenhardie areas impacted by the PA Turnpike widening and sound wall project, I’m guessing that they too would encourage his support of the transportation funding bill.

With a reelection campaign ahead in 2014, is Kampf’s political calculus that the voters will punish him for supporting the transportation bill if it means raising the cost of gas. In my opinion, it is more likely that the voters will punish him if he doesn’t support the bill, especially if it means the loss of the Paoli Transit Center and the PA Turnpike projects for Tredyffrin.

It’s difficult for elected officials to support a tax increase when they are not running for office – but when its election year, the task is all but impossible. If Corbett does not have the proposed transportation funding bill on his desk in 2013, it seems unlikely that it will resurface in 2014 (election year).

The infrastructure in Pennsylvania is in trouble and our roads, bridges, tunnels and transit systems are not going to fix themselves – they need funding and the money has to come from somewhere. The clock is running down for State lawmakers to maake a decision on transportation funding.

Dry Weather Forecast for Open Land Conservancy’s Vine Day Tomorrow, Saturday 2 . . . Last Vine Day of the Season, Can you Spare a Couple of Hours?

Has this winter left you suffering from cabin fever and a need to get outside for some fresh air? There’s a perfect opportunity tomorrow, Saturday, April 2 to help the community and celebrate the end of winter!

The Open Land Conservancy of Chester County will be holding its last Vine Day of the season on Saturday at George Lorimer Preserve, 9 AM – 12 Noon. Vines will be cut back so you will need to wear appropriate gloves and protective clothing. Volunteers are asked to bring tools if they have them — prunners, saws, clippers. But not to worry, the volunteers from Open Land Conservancy will have extra tools.

Lorimer Preserve is 88 acres of meadows, woods, ponds, stream, and extensive trail system are managed to provide a variety of habitats for wildlife in a beautiful rural setting.

Directions: head north on North Valley Road across Valley Creek, to entrance and parking lot on right. For further information on Vine Day and Open Land Conservancy, click here. Any questions, contact Ray Clarke at 610-578-0358.

Looking at this photo from the last Vine Day of Harold Sheinbach and Mac Wilson, it is obvious that these vines could use some attention! You can make a difference with a couple of hours of your time tomorrow. . . it’s the last Vine Day of the season.

Mill Road Bridge Closes Monday, March 21 for 9 months!

For those of us living in the western Great Valley area of Tredyffrin, tomorrow, March 21 at 9 AM, the Mill Road Bridge will close for 9 months for repairs. Many of us routinely use Mill Road to connect between Yellow Springs and Swedesford Road . . . this is not going to be fun!

From the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission:
UPDATE: Mill Road Bridge to Close 9:00 AM March 21
Mill Road Traffic Restrictions in Tredyffrin Township Begin March 21
Bridge over I-76 to close at 9 a.m. Monday morning.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission advises motorists that the bridge carrying Mill Road over the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County will close to local traffic at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, March 21 with a passenger car and truck detour in effect until November.

G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc., of York, Pa, was awarded the $4.2 million contract to replace the bridge in December 2010. The contractor anticipates the new bridge will be open to traffic before the end of the year. The bridge is located 3.5 miles west of the Valley Forge Interchange (Exit #326) and 10.5 miles east of the Downingtown Interchange (Exit #312).

Preparations for the mid-April demolition of the 60+ year old Mill Road Bridge began earlier this month when the contractor installed advance warning signs on the Turnpike mainline and local roads alerting motorists to the March 21 bridge closure and traffic restrictions. Detour signs have been posted along the two detour routes approved by the township and PennDOT for the duration of the bridge replacement project expected to last nine months.

Starting Monday morning (Mar. 21), through traffic traveling south on Mill Road will be detoured at Duportail Road and from the north at Yellow Springs Road where they intersect at the approach of the bridge.

Passenger cars will be directed over Duportail Rd., Swedesford Rd., State Route 252, Valley Forge Rd. (SR 252), Valley Creek Rd. (SR 252), and Yellow Springs Road to Mill Road (approx. 5.8 miles).

Trucks will follow Duportail Rd., Swedesford Rd., Moorehall Rd. (SR 29), and Yellow Springs Rd. to Mill Road (approx. 9 miles).

Help Save the Trees . . . Vine Day at Cool Valley Preserve Tomorrow!

Saturday, March 5th
Cool Valley Preserve Vine Day!
9 AM

Honeysuckle, choking a tree.Save the trees! Chester County Open Land Conservancy volunteers continue to wage their battle against the invasive vines that are strangling the trees in the Nature Preserves . . . and could use some help tomorrow.

This is a great opportunity to get some fresh air, work with some of your neighbors and make a lasting impact on the Nature Preserves. Saturday, March 5, starting at 9 AM is the Cool Valley Preserve ‘Vine Day’. Although the volunteers generally work 3-4 hours, any help that you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

Directions to Cool Valley Preserve: Off Swedesford Road turn into Shadow Oak Drive. Follow to the end (circle). Turn left at circle one block to Cool Valley Road and turn right to Preserve entrance.

Volunteers are asked to meet in the Cool Valley Preserve entrance at 9 AM. Any questions, contact Ray Clarke, 610-578-0358. All that’s needed are protective clothing, gloves and, if you have them, tools such as loppers, pruners and hand saws to supplement Open Land Conservancy’s supply.

Help Save the Trees!

Malvern Power Couple Heading to Harrisburg

Noun 1. power couple – def: a couple both of whom have high-powered careers or are politically influential

Just yesterday, it was announced that Gov-elect Corbett had selected Carol Aichele to serve in his cabinet as Secretary of the Commonwealth. Today we learn that Carol will be able to carpool to Harrisburg with another Aichele family member.

Corbett has selected Carol’s husband, Steve Aichele, to serve as the state’s Chief Counsel. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of major Philadelphia law firm, Saul Ewing, Corbett will oversee the Commonwealth’s legal department which employs 500 attorneys and represents the governor and 32 executive and independent agencies.

Epitomizing the phrase, ‘all in the family’, Carol and Steve Aichele are certainly Malvern’s newest power couple going to Harrisburg.

Great Valley Association Annual Meeting – Wednesday, November 10

A reminder that the Great Valley Association’s Annual Meeting is tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 15, 7 PM at the township building. One of the major topic of discussions at the meeting will be the Pennsylvania Turnpike Open House scheduled for next week, November 16. The Great Valley Association has been actively involved with the turnpike expansion project and the Rt. 29 slip ramp.

For an update on the project and discussion of the upcoming open house, the public is invited to attend tomorrow night’s Great Valley Association meeting.

Great Valley Association Pleased Rt. 29 Slip Ramp Project Moves Forward, However . . . Stormwater & Sound Wall Issues Unresolved

In a letter to the Editor in this week’s Main Line Suburban newspaper (see letter below), Great Valley Association president Al Charpentier and Turnpike Sub-committee Chair Lou Erdelan expressed their gratitude for local officials assistance with the turnpike’s Rt. 29 slip ramp project. But as Al and Lou explain, open issues remain with the stormwater and sound walls in the planned turnpike expansion plans. Thanks Al and Lou for your update.

Speaking of the turnpike . . . As a member of the Design Roundtable for the Total Reconstruction and Widening Project of Milepost 320-326, I was just notified by the Turnpike Commission this week of a meeting to be held on August 31. Senator Andy Dinniman will attend the meeting and provide a recap of his discussion with the PA Turnpike Commission and will hope to resolve outstanding issues surrounding the turnpike expansion project. Representatives from the Turnpike Commission will update the Design Roundtable members on progress since our last meeting, which was held in March.

To the Editor:

You may have read the recent announcement that the PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) approved the long-delayed Route 29 slip-ramp project, now scheduled to get under way in March 2011 and be completed by late 2012. A widening of the roadway from four to six lanes is also in the planning stages.

The Great Valley Association created a Pennsylvania Turnpike sub-committee of private citizens in March 2005 to represent the residents of Tredyffrin living in addresses affected by the turnpike roadway in terms of stormwater control and noise abatement. Along with other residential groups, we partnered with township and local elected officials including State Rep. Paul Drucker, State Sen. Andy Dinniman and Tredyffrin Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro, who have been instrumental in moving both the slip-ramp and turnpike-expansion projects forward. While viewing these projects as separate, they have worked cooperatively with the PTC and other state officials on both, to protect local residents’ property and quality of life.

We thank our elected officials and the Turnpike Commission for resolving the slip-ramp issue. Remaining to be resolved are the stormwater issues and the sound-barrier issues for the widening in Tredyffrin and the same level of cooperation should make that resolution possible. While substantial progress has been made, these issues are still not fully resolved and GVA will continue to strive for a resolution that works for Tredyffrin residents.

Our local state representative, Paul Drucker, is confident “this project will not only ease congestion on local roads and reduce travel time for thousands of commuters, but [it] will create jobs.” Senator Dinniman views the turnpike’s decision to move forward with the slip ramp as “crucial to the continued vitality of our region.” Supervisor DiBuonaventuro says, “I view the Aug. 5 announcement [on the slip ramp] as having nothing to do with the sound-wall element of the 6-mile widening project… The progress made with respect to the widening project has been very positive over the last year [but] there are still both stormwater refinements and sound-wall issues to finalize.”

The GVA will continue to work on behalf of the residents along with our elected officials and turnpike management to provide effective sound walls and stormwater control as planning for the widening project unfolds.

More information will be forthcoming between now and the end of the year. Thank you.

Albert Charpentier, President, Great Valley Association
Lou Erdelan, Chairman, Turnpike Sub-Committee

Senator Dinniman Holds Neighborhood Meeting to Provide PA Turnpike Stormwater Updates . . . Great Valley resident Kathleen Keohane attends meeting and shares her notes

Senator Andy Dinniman held a small meeting last night to focus on the PA Turnpike stormwater management issues. He brought together turnpike representatives as well as elected officials and individuals representing various homeowner and associated groups in the area. Kathleen Keohane, a resident of the Yellow Springs/Great Valley section of the township attended and graciously provided the following update notes from the meeting. Thank you Kathleen!

Notes from Great Valley Resident Kathleen Keohane

July 27, 2020

It was State Senator Andy Dinniman’s idea to bring decision-makers from the Turnpike Commission together with representatives of the Township and Tredyffrin‘s civic, neighborhood and environmental groups to discuss the Turnpike’s revised stormwater management plan. This is one part of the overall 6-mile-long road widening design plan that will also include sound walls along most of the roadway.

Major discussion points:

-Stormwater runoff from the turnpike will be controlled at near 100%, even with the now planned 26 foot median. This represents a significant improvement in volume control since the original stormwater plan was presented; Control rates exceed DEP standards and in almost all cases, meet Tredyffrin Township’s more stringent criteria.

– Only 18 properties in Tredyffrin will be affected under the revised plan– with 15 partial ‘takes” and 3 complete acquisitions. Among those three, no homeowner has been forced to sell. This also is a far cry from the original design plan which called for the partial taking of almost 90 properties and the acquisition of 8 homes.

The meeting, held in Keene Hall on Tuesday evening, drew about 50 people. As Senator Dinniman pointed out, “The decision-makers are all here” – including PTC’s head, Joe Brimmeier, Head Engineer Frank Kempf and Project Manager, Kevin Scheurich. State Rep. Paul Drucker attended, as did Supervisors Di Buonaventuro, Donahue and Richter. Representatives from civic, neighborhood and environmental groups were there, as well as several residents whose properties are being acquired by the Turnpike.

Most of the evening’s discussion focused on stormwater problems in the Glenhardie area. This eastern-most section of the 6-mile-long expansion project has proved to be the most challenging given the confluence of roadways, the large amount of impervious cover and the extent of local flooding in heavy rains and damage to Trout Creek.

The Township acknowledged that Turnpike runoff is not the only source of the neighborhood’s stormwater problems, and that a “regional” approach will be necessary – one that will involve the Township, PennDOT, commercial property owners as well as the turnpike.

While Tredyffrin stormwater expert and engineer Steve Burgo readily agreed that the Turnpike’s stormwater plan had evolved to include greater volume and rate control, he felt there was more that could be done at off-site locations.

The acquisition of a small parcel from the Richter property located at the confluence of Old Eagle School, Glenhardie and Walker Roads) was mentioned as was the use of a small piece of land (6.-1 acre in size) at Teegarden Park, near the top of the Trout Creek watershed.

Turnpike Engineer Kempf was firm in the limits of the Turnpike’s involvement. “We do not want to commit to something we cannot control,” he said. Since off-site property is privately held, there is the problem of eminent domain, which “could hold up the Turnpike’s project and add to the cost.”

Though the Turnpike is willing to listen to alternatives, in their view, they have proposed a viable solution that handles 100% of the turnpike’s runoff in the Glenhardie area. Despite some differences regarding what constitutes adequate stormwater mitigation in this area, a spirit of cooperation seemed genuine and all remaining issues appeared solvable as the meeting wound down.

Engineer Pete Goodman, past president of Trout Unlimited and a long-time advocate for maintaining the “exceptional value” of Valley Creek, brought up two areas of concern: that discharges from several of the Turnpike’s proposed detention basins would flow directly into Valley Creek or Wilson’s Run (a tributary) with no volume control. TP Project Manage Scheurich countered that the discharges were not direct in his view and met over 100% of the volume criteria. Both agreed to follow-up with more detailed discussions.

Near the end of the meeting, Supervisor DiBuonaventuro questioned the Turnpike’s decision to build a 26 foot median instead of the 16 foot size previously favored. From his perspective as an EMT – and echoing Police Chief Chambers’ position, a wider left-hand shoulder would encourage drivers to use it for emergencies. DiBuonaventuro believed it posed a danger to emergency vehicles coming to a driver’s aid as well as to drivers merging back into the fastest lane of traffic. Engineer Kempf defended the wider shoulder as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Bureau.

DiBuonaventuro also raised the issue of additional tree buffer having to be cut down to accommodate the extra 5 feet of roadway needed on each side for a 26- foot median. Kempf acknowledged that some additional trees would need to be cut down but promised to work on a property-by-property basis to determine what had to be cut. He pointed out that residents should be pleased that the Turnpike planned to build retaining walls instead of taking additional private property. He also committed to continue monthly Roundtable meetings throughout the entire construction phase so that residents could express their concerns.

Still, as one environmentalist pointed out, building a 26 foot median will require the elimination of 8.2 acres of woods over the length of the expansion in Tredyffrin That’s a lot of trees…..

Another meeting was scheduled for the end of August to continue what proved to be a very informative and useful discussion.

Did You Know There’s a One-Room Octagonal Schoolhouse in Tredyffrin Township — Diamond Rock Schoolhouse’s Annual Open House This Sunday and You Are Invited!

The public is invited this Sunday, June 13, 2-4 PM to the Annual Summer 2010 Open House of the very special historic Diamond Rock Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is located at the intersection of Yellow Springs Road and Diamond Rock Road in Malvern, near Valley Forge Park.

Please, . . . take the opportunity to visit this little jewel in our own backyard. Stop by and bring your children so they can see how it was in the ‘olden days’ before cell phones and computers.

A brief history of the Diamond Rock Schoolhouse from their website, :

In 1818, half a century before the advent of public schools in this area, a small community of primarily Mennonite families contributed their labor and money to building this one room schoolhouse and hiring a teacher. They chose an octagonal plan – at the time a popular architectural concept – because it provided one wall and window for each of the six grades, another for the teacher opposite one for the door. The students sat on benches facing table-like desks against the wall with their backs to the warmth of a small wood-burning stove. As the teacher would address a class, those students would turn around to face the center.

As the population increased, the school closed in 1864 and the pupils were divided between nearby Walker and Salem Village schools. After 1864, the old schoolhouse fell into disrepair but was eventually restored in 1909 by the Diamond Rock School Old Pupils Association, a group of former students who saw great value in preserving their former school for future generations. Their work is continued today by the member-supported Diamond Rock Schoolhouse Preservation Association.

Tredyffrin Township . . . First Board of Supervisor Meeting of the New Year

Last night was the first Board of Supervisors Meeting for 2010. Most of the meeting was about the necessary housekeeping for our local government . . . swearing-in of new supervisors (Kichline, Donohue, Richter) and also the election of the chair and vice chair of the Board. Supervisor Lamina will serve as Chair and Supervisor Olson as Vice Chair of the Board. It was curious to see how the seat assignments of the members of the Board — aside from the chair and vice chair, I wonder how the seating on the board is decided. Can we read anything in to the placement from left to right as follows: Donohue, DiBuonaventuro, Kampf, Lamina, Olson, Richter, Kichline.

The organizational meeting included the resolution to name the emergency services; adoption of the meeting schedule for the various township boards and approval of the consultants and law firms. I wonder if the township reviews the contracts with the various consultants/firms yearly as part of the budget review process. I wonder if these firms just become ‘grandfathered in’ and are status quo year after year. Do you suppose their fees are discussed and whether they are negotiable? Due to the economy, many firms are having to adjust their fee schedules to remain competitive — should there be an expectation on the part of the township to ask for this kind of consideration of the companies doing business with the township. Just a question.

Following the organizational meeting, there was a brief regular meeting. In fact, Chair Lamina asked if any Board member or audience members had any new business. The question was asked so quickly that at least one person I know missed the question and missed the opportunity to give her prepared written remarks. The pace was such last night if you blinked, you missed an opportunity to make comment or ask questions. Supervisors neither offered an update on the contributions to-date nor did residents ask for a status report on the Fire Department contribution; guess it’s a good thing that we have this blog — otherwise, we would not know have a clue on the subject.

A Public Hearing on the Patriots Path Plan followed the Board of Supervisors meeting. The consultants gave a slide presentation of the draft plan. Audience members spoke passionately both in favor of the plan and also some of the residents likewise related their concerns about the project, particularly about the width of the path, privacy, elimination of wildlife and trees and plants. Residents in the Great Valley are in the process of putting together a survey and asked that the supervisors not vote last night. The Board agreed to delay a decision to allow for further review and discussion; the plan will be revisited at the February Board meeting.

I have lived in the Great Valley for 25 years and I have never been to the Warner Spur/Cedar Hollow area to see the old railroad trail, location of the proposed Patriots Path. I suggested to several Great Valley Association Board members that I think it would be a good idea for a field trip for supervisors and interested residents to visit the site. I understand that this is private property owned by the Township so I would suggest perhaps a Sunday afternoon date that everyone could meet at a specific location and review some of the proposed path area. It’s hard for some of us to visualize the path without having seen the area. Perhaps the Sidewalks, Trails & Path Committee and also members of the Open Land Conservancy could be available to show the residents around. Just an idea . . .

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