Pattye Benson

Community Matters


PennDOT patching potholes on state roads tomorrow!

potholesWith rising temperatures in the forecast, I just received a notice from PennDOT that they have scheduled pothole patching on state roads in the 5-county Philadelphia area for tomorrow! (See PennDOT press release below).

This week I was driving to King of Prussia on Rt. 202 North and could not believe the damage the winter weather has caused on the highway. I was in the right lane of Rt. 202 by the Rt. 422 exit, and there were large gaping holes in the roadway. I don’t know what type of filler they use in the seams but that materials was missing and it was very dangerous — you run the risk of hitting other cars in an attempt to avoid the holes. And then the damage to your car if you do hit the pothole!

It is almost impossible to drive along Lancaster Avenue and avoid the potholes, they are everywhere! Weaving in and of lanes to avoid the potholes, I think to myself — will the police understand my explanation if I get pulled over. I know that someone commented on CM, that although Rt. 30 is a state road, the repair work is done by the local municipal workers rather than PennDOT. We live on a state road and the repairs to the road have always been done by PennDOT so not certain why Lancaster Avenue would be treated any differently.

State Rep Warren Kampf has created a ‘Pothole Hotline’ for residents to report potholes on state roads. Residents in Kampf’s District are asked to call 610.251.2876 and report any potholes that are believed to be dangerous. Kampf has promised to pass the information on to PennDOT and to follow-up to make certain that the repair is done.

03/7/2014 – King of Prussia, PA.

With no snow in the forecast, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will once again take advantage of seasonable temperatures on Saturday (March 8) to repair potholes on state highways in the five-county Philadelphia region.

“We will have 27 crews working tomorrow to fill potholes with hot asphalt as we continue our aggressive plan to improve state roads that have been damaged during this relentless winter season,” PennDOT District Executive Lester C. Toaso said.

“PennDOT crews have been focused on filling potholes throughout the winter, except when snow duty called,” Toaso added. “The difference now is that hot asphalt is more readily available in the Philadelphia region and the use of this material enables us to make more permanent repairs.”

PennDOT crews work weekdays to repair potholes, but they also patched state roadways in the Philadelphia region on the weekend of Feb. 22-23, using nearly 600 tons of asphalt to fill holes in the pavement.

This year’s severe and early outbreak of potholes resulted from snow and ice seeping into pavements and temperature swings above and below the freezing mark.

A pothole develops when water penetrates into a roadway through pavement cracks and then freezes and expands, knocking loose small pieces of pavement. As cars and trucks ride over the area, cracks enlarge, more water enters and the cycle repeats itself to the point where the pavement fails.

Citizens can report potholes on state highways by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623).

Motorists can check conditions on major roadways by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 680 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available by calling 5-1-1, and regional Twitter alerts are available on the 511PA website.

Improving Conditions in Tredyffrin Township — Power Returning to Many Households!

What’s the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” – the same could be say about restoring power to Tredyffrin Township and its surrounding areas. Downed power lines and toppled trees left many roads impassable and neighborhoods with dangerous conditions. Winter Storm Nika is PECO’s second worst in their history in terms of power loss, exceeded only by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. However, as the third day without power ends for many residents, there are improving conditions to report.

Friday evening, I received a phone call from Tredyffrin Township Police Supt. Giaimo offering some updates:

  • Tredyffrin Township now has a crew of 75 PECO trucks, each with 2 employees, dedicated to our township and focused on completing the restoration of all power to residents.
  • The repairs on the main sewer break at Rts 252 & 23 in Valley Forge National Historic Park are progressing and the township’s Public Works and Engineering Departments are moving quickly to resolve the problem.
  • Tredyffrin Township building is open as a warming and charging station. Although the website states the building is open until midnight, the township building will be open through the night, Saturday and Sunday, if needed. Coffee and tea is available.
  • Supt. Giaimo strongly urged residents to check on their elderly neighbors. If you are without power and need a place to stay, the police have an updated list of available local hotels. They are also arranging for transportation to West Chester shelters, either by buses or in some cases, the police are driving the residents. Residents are encouraged to utilize the resources available at the township building.
  • Much improvement has been made on the road closures with many re-opened today.

Supt. Giaimo assured me that many in the Police Department “have been working around the clock to keep people as safe as possible”.

I have been in contact with Township Manager Bill Martin. Just as the police chief, the township manager is also working very long hours but wanted me to know that “the hard work is done by all the staff – public works, police and support staff. They work above and beyond anything I have seen in all my years of public service, they care so much about what they do and the residents.”

The hope is that most of Tredyffrin Township should have their power restored by Saturday night – although it may be Sunday for some of the outlining areas.

People are reporting repair crews have arrived from all over the US –Ohio, Illinois, Alabama, Florida, North and South Carolina, Connecticut, Massachusetts and even crews from Canada! It was interesting to hear a PECO representative say that they usually don’t receive a high volume complaints in a power outage until about the 72 hour mark but that this time the complaints started at less than 24 hours into the outage. However, unlike the August storm of Hurricane Sandy, residents are dealing with below-zero temperatures during Winter Storm Nika.

Although I think that PECO could have moved quicker to organize following the power outage and PennDOT did not do its best at handling snow and ice covered roads, I have the highest praise for our home team in Tredyffrin – Supt. Giaimo and the Police Department and Township Manager Bill Martin and his support staff, public works and engineering staff. In addition, we thank the Berwyn Fire Company Chief Eamon Brazunas and his staff of volunteer fire fighters and Chief Ira Dutter and the volunteers of Paoli Fire Company. Many of these folks are exhausted having worked long hours, and in many cases leaving their own families and houses with similar power outages to help us – the residents of Tredyffrin – and deserve our appreciation and gratitude!

Paoli Transportation Center project — Taking Another Step

Monday morning marks the next step for the Paoli Transportation Center project!

Five months ago on January 31, I wrote that SEPTA had awarded a $7.5 million contract to Gannett Fleming for the design of a new Paoli regional rail station and parking garage. The plan calls for building the new station 80 feet west of the current train station location to better connect SEPTA and private buses. The plan will involve high-level platforms and the reworking of Amtrak interlocking system. PennDOT selected Parsons Brinckerhoff for the interlocking design work on the Keystone Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, which include the Paoli Transportation Center. Gannett Fleming design work is to take place through 2014.

At the same time that SEPTA announced its award to Gannett Fleming, the township selected McMahon Associates as the engineering consultant team to complete a study to outline recommendations for the necessary road improvements, including the bridge, needed to support the new transportation center. The McMahon study will address congestion, public safety and establish a plan for an overall vision for the new train station through traffic calming, streetscape and intersection modifications. This is a state-funded project and completion is expected by the end of 2013.

Tredyffrin selected Bergmann Associates as the engineering team to design the signal and roadway improvements for the intersection at Rt. 252 and 30. The design will be based on the 2011 feasibility study. This design study is state and federally funded and expected to be completed by 2013/14.

Well folks, it looks like the Paoli Transportation project is taking its next step – tomorrow, Monday, June 25 at 7:30 AM, there’s a press conference at Paoli Village Shoppes to officially announce the start of the Paoli Transportation Center project.

Kampf Responds to Constitutionality of Voter ID Law and Claims No Financial Burden on Local/County Budgets to Implement

The passage of the photo voter ID bill earlier this month by state legislators made Pennsylvania the 16th state to adopt a strict voter identification policy and the ninth state to do so in the past year. The law requires voters to produce a Pennsylvania driver’s license or another government-issued photo ID, such as a US passport, military ID or county/municipal employee ID. The state will also accept college ID or personal care home IDs, as long as they are current and include an expiration date.

Pennsylvania’s photo voter ID law will not be in effect for the primary next but will be in effect in November, when Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes are at stake. Prior to the passage of the voter ID bill, I posted ‘PA Voter ID bill: costly and unnecessary… how about unconstitutional?’ on March 8. The post included an email sent from attorney and Judge of Elections for Tredyffrin W-2 district, Steve Shapiro to Rep Warren Kampf indicating concern that the photo voter identification legislation, House Bill 934 violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Steve received a response from Kampf and kindly shared the following information to post on Community Matters:

I received the letter linked below in the mail today from Rep. Kampf responding to my email. It does not address the issue I raised — my concern that the voter ID law violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (as opposed to the U.S. Constitution, which the letter does discuss) — and I suspect it is largely a form letter sent to all who wrote him about the bill. However, since I published my email to Rep. Kampf, I think it only fair that I publish his response:

I leave the constitutionality battle of the voter identification legislation to the attorneys, but I was interested in Kampf’s response on the issue of ‘cost’ for implementation. The following excerpt from Kampf’s letter, addresses the expense to implement the law:

” … Another issue that has been brought up is the cost of this law. I am mindful of any increases on our already over-burdened budget. The Pennsylvania Department of State intends to utilize Help America Vote Act funding (federal funding available to the Commonwealth) to fund the cost of the dissemination provision in calendar year 2012. The estimated citizen population in the Commonwealth is 9,642,277 as of January 2012. According to PennDOT, 9,552,700 adults have a PennDOT issued ID or 99.07% of the citizen population. Applying that percentage to all registered voters (8,8186,052 as of March 12) would total a potential 76,048 IDs. Not all of these would be paid for by the General Fund if some of those individuals could afford to pay for the identification themselves, or they did not need it because of the other forms of identification now permitted. Further, the Governor has pledged to work with the Aging Office and PennDOT to make sure those who need an identification card have speedy access to one.

We do not believe this legislation will have adverse impact on local or county budgets. The Department of State will handle the 2012 dissemination requirement and indicates that they are recommending that counties publish the new requirements in their required newspaper proclamations before each election, therefore creating no new additional costs to the counties… ‘

Although Kampf states that the voter ID legislation will not have an adverse impact on local and county budgets, estimates for implementation and education have circulated that indicate actual costs will be in the millions. The nonpartisan Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center put the estimate to implement as high as $11 million based on the experiences of other states. If Kampf is correct in his assessment and local municipal budgets will not affected, how will the state absorb the implementation costs? What programs or departments will need to be cut (or minimally reduced) in the state budget to offset the expense to implement voter identification?

In a difficult fiscal environment, when the state is facing making record cuts to education, higher education and other crucial programs, where will the money come from to pay for the implementation of the voter ID system? As a concerned taxpayer, I want to believe that Kampf is correct in his assessment and that there will be no financial burden to implement this legislation. However, as a realist, I don’t see how implementation of the voter ID process is possible without an attached price tag.

Setting aside the implementation cost debate of the voter ID legislation, what about large legal bills when the state is required to defend the voter ID legislation. Lawsuits over the constitutionality of the voter ID law are almost certain, which translates into substantial costs and exposure for Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Rt. 202: Northbound lanes shifting to Southbound side this weekend

Be careful driving this weekend on Route 202 – the 202 construction project through Tredyffrin is shifting the two northbound lanes to the southbound side.

I attended a Route 202 Project Update meeting given by TMACC (Transportation Management Association of Chester County) held at Penn State/Great Valley. Basically, an update for local corporate and hotel (and Bed & Breakfast) representatives in the area, the meeting was to inform on Stage 3 (final stage) of this section of the 202 project.

Starting Friday night (8 PM) and continuing through the weekend, the two lanes of northbound Rt. 202 will shift to the southbound side. The southbound traffic will remain in its current Stage 2 pattern. It is anticipated that the shifting of lanes will be completed prior to Monday morning rush hour.

With the traffic removed from the northbound lanes, the contractor will replace the existing pavement; excavate median area for construction of a new lane; excavate right shoulder for construction of collector-distributor lane; install drainage; erect sound barrier walls and rebuild the ramps at the PA 29/Swedesford Road interchange.

David Palmer, the Rt. 202 project manager, explained that the sound walls will not be constructed from concrete but rather will be ‘absorptive’ panels – the impression given was that this type of sound walls would greatly reduce the noise for the local homeowners. I asked the height of the walls as prior to this construction, the Swedesford Road section through my section of the township had walls that were only about 3 feet high. If I understood correctly, we should be getting 15-20 ft. high construction walls through this entire section of the 202 project.

In discussing the Stage 3 impacts, it was explained that PennDOT plans to maintain four lanes of traffic at most times during construction and especially during the peak morning and later afternoon drive times with occasional off-peak, overnight and weekend lane restrictions each way. Also we should expect occasional ramp detours and North Valley road will remain narrowed at the Rt. 202 overpass.

The project is on schedule and this final Stage 3 phase will be completed by December 2012. In Spring 2013, the next section of the 202 project will start (where this one ends) and will continue to the Rt. 30 Bypass. Expected completion date on the final section is December 2015.

In other updates from the meeting — It was also reported that things may be back on track for O’Neill’s Uptown Worthington project. Looks like O’Neill and Citizens Bank have reached some kind of an agreement and that Wegmans may finally have some new neighbors. Discussion that the next phase of the Worthington project is to include residential units and possibly movie theater.

Another update: Atwater property (Rt. 29 and Yellow Springs Road) home to the Allstate Insurance Company, is getting a new tenant; a pharmaceutical company from Chadds Ford is relocating to the property by the end of 2012 with 400 employees. Atwater filed a zoning application for a mixed-use development to include townhouses, single-family homes and some retail – the thought was they wanted to model it after the Uptown Worthington project.

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