Newtown Township

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has turned down Arcadia’s request for direct access to the Newtown Bypass as part of its plans to build a new housing development at Buck Road and the Bypass.

The agency also rejected a secondary suggestion that would have allowed left turns from the development onto northbound Buck Road.

Newtown Township Solicitor David Sander announced the decisions at the township’s July board of supervisors meeting.

What it has agreed to, said Sander, is allowing a U-Turn at Mill Pond Road and Diamond Drive at the entrances to the Eagle Ridge and Crown Pointe developments that would allow traffic from the new development to double back for access to the bypsss and destinations north of the bypass.

In its letter to the township, PennDOT said it will “not allow” a new direct driveway access to Route 332 (Newtown Bypass), which would require a break in the Limited Access Right of Way. Additionally, it said the Department “will not permit” left turns out from the Service Road onto Buck Road as proposed in Alternatives 2 and 3.

PennDOT said it “has significant concerns with the safety and efficacy of the potential access options and movements, in particular the weaving movement that would be introduced on Route 332 in Alternative 1 and allowing lefts out from the Service Road onto Buck Road in Alternatives 2 and 3 especially given the increased turning movement volumes at that intersection due to the development as well the very close proximity of the Service Road intersection to the Route 332 signalized intersection combined with few gaps and long queues on northbound Buck Road.“

After studying all the options, PennDOT said the U-Turn option is the only “acceptable” alternative.

“The southbound Buck Road U-turn movement at the Mill Pond Road/Diamond Drive signalized intersection would operate with protected/prohibited phasing, therefore having no conflicts with northbound vehicles,” said PennDOT. “As such, the Alternative 4 condition of rights out from the Service Road followed by u-turns at this signal is safer than allowing lefts out from the Service Road.“

Preliminary as final settlement agreement plans for the new development are scheduled to go before township planners on August 5 and the board of supervisors on August 11.

Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a revised settlement agreement with the Arcadia Land Company that allows the Philadelphia-based land developer to submit plans to the township to build 60 single family detached homes in the $700,000 price range behind the Newtown Reformed Church at Route 532 and the Newtown Bypass. That’s 16 homes fewer than Arcadia had originally sought to build.

The settlement ended all court litigation, including a suit filed by the Eagle Ridge community over a writ of mandamus filed by the developer claiming a clerical error by the township’s solicitor resulted in a deemed approval of the plan. The writ was subsequently deemed approved by a Bucks County Judge.

The planners anticipate spending much of the time at its August meeting discussing traffic issues, specifically related to how traffic will enter and exit the proposed development.

The settlement agreement attempted to resolve traffic concerns related to the entrance to the development on Buck Road and its location within yards of the Newtown Bypass.

The original plan showed traffic from the new development utilizing an existing service road that parallels the bypass and is currently posted as a right turn in and right turn out only at Buck Road.

Under the settlement agreement Arcadia agreed to ask PennDOT for permission to allow right-turn access into and out of the site directly from the Newtown Bypass. That option has since been rejected by PennDOT.

Arcadia also asked PennDOT to permit left turns from the service road onto Buck Road northbound from the development. That idea was also rejected by PennDOT.

The idea, proposed by Pete Ancona of Newtown Crossing, would have added a new signal immediately south of the service road that when triggered by a pressure plate would stop traffic headed northbound on Buck Road to allow vehicles to turn out of the service road without any potential conflict with the traffic light at the Newtown Bypass.

That leaves the u-turn option that would be added on Buck Road at Mill Pond Road and Diamond Drive for traffic from the new development looking to head northbound on Buck Road. The intersection would be improved to make the maneuver safe.

In addition, the agreement would prohibit all construction vehicles from using Mill Pond Road. And no truck signs would be erected at both ends of Mill Pond Road and at either end of Cherry Lane if PennDOT’s standards for no trucks is met.

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