Imagine turning onto Vine Street from Broad Street in Lansdale Borough and cruising all the way through, non-stop, down a reconfigured Derstine Avenue and Susquehanna Avenue to a new traffic light at Wood and Main streets.
The same goes for turning onto Wood Street from Main Street - the intersection where Molly Maguire's, National Auto Store and exists - and cruising at a cool 20 mph, without stopping, to Broad Street.
By doing this, you circumvent and avoid the intersection at Broad and Main, as well as the SEPTA train crossings.
By Spring 2013, construction will be underway on the new $3.5-million Vine-Wood Connector Project, formerly known as the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative Project. The low bidder for the project was Marino Corporation out of Skippack.
Earl Armitage, of Pennoni Associates, said the connector project was designed to complement the Lansdale streetscape project. The latter improved aesthetics and traffic on Main Street, Broad Street and Madison Street.
"One of the main purposes of the project was to provide a more direct route from Broad Street to Main Street," Armitage said. "It provides an alternate route for people that currently travel over the railroad tracks on Broad Street, go to the intersection at Main and Broad, turn left and continue along Main Street. And then, conversely, people that would come eastbound on Main Street, go across the railroad tracks at Main, get to the signal, turn right, go across another railroad track."
"There certainly is a vehicle component to this, which is to provide this alternate route for that traffic. But there is also a major pedestrian component of this project, which is equally or more important to the borough," Armitage said.
Armitage said when the application was submitted for PCTI funding to PennDOT, PennDOT looked at what projects had been successfully completed in the borough when they were evaluating which projects to fund.
"This one was certainly deemed worthy to them," he said. "There are PCTI projects that received as little as $10,000. This was the highest amount of money awarded through that program. It shows the importance that PennDOT saw in investing in Lansdale Borough by awarding this amount of money."
Armitage said PennDOT has historically put money into roads they own. For them to see the importance of investing in local-owned roads, he said, is unheard of.
"They see the benefit this will have to their state highways," he said.
The Wood-Vine Connector comes with a plethora of benefits, per Armitage. These benefits include:
- Upgraded sidewalks that are consistent and compliant with American Disabilities Act
- Decorative crosswalks
- ADA-compliant curb ramps
- LED pedestrian-scale lighting
- Intersections lit with overhead luminaires
- Landscaping amenities
- Roadway and drainage improvements
- Upgrades to underground to sewer and water lines, and Verizon utility lines
Another vast improvement is the reconfiguration and repaving of the municipal parking lot at Susquehanna Avenue and Derstine Avenue, across from The Reporter building.
This parking lot will have 13 more spaces added, bringing the total to 50.
At present, the alleyway between Derstine Avenue and Columbia Avenue exits through the lot onto Susquehanna Avenue and continues across onto Vine Street. This splits the parking into two sections.
With the new configuration, that thoroughfare will be adjusted. The alleyway will now exit into the lot, with two exits: one at Derstine Avenue and another new exit onto Susquehanna Avenue that does not line up with Vine Street.
Under the new connector project, commuters will have to stop at Susquehanna Avenue and Vine Street when heading north toward Main Street.
Gone will be the four-way stop at Vine and Green streets, with a two-way stop to affect commuters coming either direction on Green Street.
There will be a "Stop Except Right Turn" sign posted at Wood Street and Derstine Avenue. Commuters turning from West Main Street onto Wood Street will not have to stop when continuing left onto Derstine Avenue.
All these changes are so commuters have a straight shot from Broad Street to Wood Street.
Susquehanna Avenue between Derstine Avenue and West Main Street will remain one way. However, the existing light at West Main Street and Susquehanna Avenue will be moved to West Main Street and Wood Street.
A stop sign will be erected in its place, prohibiting left turns onto West Main Street from Susquehanna Avenue.
Wood Street between West Main Street and Madison Street will become a two-way street, Armitage said. There will be no parking allowed on this portion of Wood Street, which runs between Molly Maguire's and National Auto Stores.
The Lansdale Library parking lot will be reconfigured as well.
What's important to note is the entrance and exit for the library onto Susquehanna Avenue at Derstine Avenue will be eliminated. A new entrance will be constructed on Vine Street near Green Street.
Parking will remain along Derstine Avenue as it exists now.
Right now, a few items need to be completed before construction can begin in Spring 2013. These items include right-of-way acquisition, traffic accommodation, lighting, landscaping and traffic signal relocation.
"We envision that we'll have all the necessary right-of-way acquired and all necessary approvals over this winter, and be able to be in construction as soon as we begin thawing out next year," Armitage said.
"The major change in alignment is to make the S-bend the main route in the project. The rest of the road will remain where it is today, with the realignment going along Susquehanna Avenue," he said. "The impacts to that were primarily on borough properties. It minimized any impacts along private properties."
He said there are minor impacts on private properties for ADA regulations for curbs and ramps, which are a matter of inches or feet.
Council President Matt West said the benefit of the S-curve and redesignating the entrance to the library will alleviate the issue of cut-through traffic at the library.
The S-curve in the project will be posted 20 mph. The rest of the project will have a limit of 25 mph.