LOWER MAKEFIELD >> The board of supervisors is scheduled to vote in November on a final design for the Sandy Run Road project and will either bid the project at its second meeting in November or its first meeting in December.
Michael Baker International Inc., which was hired by the township in May to design the project, is expected to make a formal presentation at either the November 4 or 18 meeting.
“The goal is to authorize this for bid before the end of the year with construction in the spring,” said Township Manager Kurt Ferguson.
The proposed project is designed to reopen Sandy Run Road to right turns in and right turns out at Edgewood Road by building two mini-roundabouts - one at Schuyler Drive and one at Mill Road - that would allow Sandy Run traffic to double back without having to take a two mile detour or make an illegal u-turn.
Township traffic engineer Joe Fiocco from SAFE Highway Engineering LLC of Trevosehas estimated engineering and construction of the roundabouts and the barriers at about $540,000, considerably cheaper than a previous engineering plan that called for shifting the Sandy Run Road intersection to the west.
“The approach to this is novel and I am impressed by it,” said Supervisor John Lewis last December. “And I hope that it passes muster as it moves forward.”
In addition to allowing Sandy Run Road traffic to double back, Fiocco said the roundabouts would act as a traffic calming measure and slow traffic down to 25 mph - the minimum speed needed to allow traffic to safely make left turns in and out of Sandy Run Road at Edgewood.
“If we get that speed down to 25 we could consider this a permanent solution,” said Fiocco.
The goal, said Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, is to have construction of the project completed in the spring and Sandy Run reopened sometime next year.
For safety reasons, the township closed Sandy Run between Reading Avenue and Edgewood Road in January 2017 after a site inspection determined there was insufficient sight and stopping distance at the intersection of Sandy Run and Edgewood Roads due to changes at the nearby railroad crossing.
Since then, the township has been working with its professionals to find a workable solution to reopen the road.
As part of that process, the engineers, working with the township, reviewed and vetted more than 25 potential solutions.
In June 2018, the supervisors took action on two fronts to address the Sandy Run Road closure, which has caused inconvenience and headaches for local residents for three years now.
On the legal side, the supervisors voted 5-0 to authorize counsel to move forward with litigation against any party that might be held legally responsible for the road closure and the cost to remedy the problem..
The supervisors also voted 5-0 in 2018 to authorize its traffic engineer to look at two options to fix the problem - shifting the Sandy Run Road intersection to the west to create greater sight distance and building permanent chicanes to slow traffic on Edgewood - or the alternative, ending Sandy Run in a cul-du-sac near Edgewood Road.
The latest, less costly plan for mini-roundabouts was proposed in December by the township’s new traffic engineer. It has since been vetted by the township’s Citizens Traffic Advisory Board, which unanimously recommended that the supervisors move forward with the idea.
In other business, township engineer Andrew Pockl announced that a multimodal grant application has officially been submitted to the state to fund construction of a bike path on Woodside Road from Makefield Highlands Golf Course to Taylorsville Road.
At Taylorsville Road, the path will connect to a new path on Woodside Road that will eventually provide bicycle and pedestrian access to the new Scudder Falls Bridge via a ramp connector now under construction.
Pockl also announced that he is in the process of reviewing plans submitted for Prickett Preserve at Edgewood, a mixed use development project proposed for land on Stony Hill Road across from Shady Brook Farm.
Also at the meeting, the supervisors approved a development agreement for Heartis Senior Living, a new independent, assisted living and memory care facility tentatively scheduled to open its doors at Dobry and Oxford Valley Roads just to the north of Big Oak Road.
To address the concerns of neighboring residents, the developer has agreed to lower the lighting levels in its parking area. They are also working on installing shields over lights on the side of the building that are projecting out toward the driveway, according to Pockl.
While the supervisors approved Heartis, they voted unanimously to oppose a request before the zoning hearing board for a special exception that would allow a bed and breakfast or boarding house to operate at 3 Ridge Avenue. The request is being made by property owner Gene Augustin.
An Edgehill Gardens resident urged the supervisors to oppose the request. “We did not move here to have a multi-family-type residence in our neighborhood,” she said.
Christian Hoover, from Greenway Avenue, also urged opposition. “If this is granted, which limits up to 10 people, Gene will stuff this house with 20 people.”
The hearing is scheduled for October 20 beginning at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom.
In other action, the supervisors approved signage designating preserved township land on Oxford Valley Road in honor of Katharine Burke.
When she was 14, Burke attended a Board of Supervisors meeting to implore the board to preserve the 26 acres of wetland and woods. At the time, the board was considering selling 8.6 acres of the property to the neighboring Bible Fellowship Church, now Riverstone Church, for parking.
Reading from a passage from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax,” Burke stood before the board and said, “I speak for the trees. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things aren’t going to get better. They’re not.”
The supervisors also approved a banner on Heacock Road across from McCaffreys Market recognizing Kay’s Day, the birthday of Kayden Mancuso, and to raise awareness of child safety and domestic violence awareness.
Looking ahead, the supervisors have scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday, Oct. 28 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Ferguson will present the township’s draft budget for 2021 at the meeting.
In other township news, Monica Tierney, the director of parks and recreation, announced that this year’s Veterans Day Parade will not be held due to the ongoing pandemic.
In its place, the township will hold a small ceremony that will be broadcast live on social media and cable TV on November 7 beginning at 1 pm. Residents may also chose to attend in person, but should wear masks and be prepared to social distance.
Also on November 7, the EAC is looking for volunteers to help plant more than 120 trees at Patterson Farm. Watch the township’s FaceBook page for details on how to sign up.