Stop me if you heard this one before, a developer wants to build something, they hire a traffic engineer and magically their expert finds no impact or need to improve the roads in and around their development. During the November 4, 2020, Plymouth Township Planning Agency Meeting, representatives of PREIT offered their view on the proposed 11-story, 503 apartment building they are currently seeking final approval on. In the first part of our series, we focused on the fact PREIT does not think it needs anything but 1 minor exception in the zoning code, which they seem to think should be quickly granted, and mentioned case law supporting their position. In short, it seemed their opinion is they have this in the bag.
In this part of our series, we will focus on the traffic impact predicted by their traffic engineering firm McMahon and Associates. In short, their experts found plenty of "capacity" on our roads to accommodate 503 residential units. Their explanation is any issue that would occur would be on the ring road within the mall. Once they fix those issues they can direct more traffic onto the back roads. Yes, the back roads like Hickory, Fountain, Narcissa, Township Line, and Butler. First, let's take a look at what improvements PREIT wants to make on Mall Property.
Ring Road Improvement #1:
Prevent left-turns when coming in the main entrance near the electronic billboard. This is actually a good idea, those coming in and making a left hold up traffic for everyone. If you need to make a left once you enter the mall, stay on Germantown and enter near the old TD Bank. They will also widen the exit lanes coming from the Burlington area to allow proper flow for turning and traffic attempting to go straight. This improvement should be done, with or without any new construction. In the below picture the green represents a new median to help curb traffic to the right. The yellow is where the road is to be widened and red is new lines to be painted.
Ring Road Improvement #2:
Restripe and install flexible tubes to help guide merging traffic near the gas station entrance. This is another good idea, when those two lanes merge people are always getting cut off and people avoid this area because of this reason. This improvement should be done, with or without any new construction. In the below picture the red lines symbolize stripping and flexible poles to be installed so cars can properly merge.
Ring Road Improvement #3:
Properly widen and stripe the T intersection near Wholefoods. Traffic turning left at this intersection lined up with oncoming traffic and it makes it confusing when turning to tell who has the right of way. This is also not a bad idea. The yellow is where the road is to be widened and red is new lines to be painted.
Ring Road Improvement #4:
Create an intersection as you enter the Wholefood garage, this would handle traffic coming and going from both the store and the apartments. In the below picture the green represents a new median tobe installed. The yellow is where the road is to be widened/created and red is new lines to be painted.
Ring Road Improvement #5:
Build a secondary entrance/exit to the apartment building (center bottom) closer to the movie theatre. This second entrance would allow the residents easy access to Hickory Road and give them away around the "retail traffic." This is a great idea for the apartment residents, but a horrible idea for Plymouth Township. In the below picture the green represents a new median to be installed. The yellow is where the road is to be widened and red is new lines to be painted. The red arrow at the end of the red dotted line (top right of picture) is the traffic heading onto Hickory Road where PREIT claims there is plenty of capacity.
PREIT representatives offered a picturesque situation where residents of these apartments would park their car and not drive all week as they live on the property. Here is the problem, that theory is flawed. While the residents may not drive on the daily basis those servicing the residents will be drawn to the area creating even more traffic. Think about all of the Uber Drivers, Grub Hub, Amazon, PeaPod, and other delivery trucks that will frequent the area. PREIT is expecting so many of these delivery drivers there will be adequate space in front of the building to accommodate these cars and trucks.
Everyone also knows, you quickly grow tired of the same options when eating out, they will inevitably leave campus and explore the greater Plymouth area, and they should - since it is a great place to live. These people will not be hermits and our back roads do not have plenty of Capacity.
Concerned residents should attend the Zoning Hearing Board on November 16, 2020, at 7 pm. Zoom meeting information will be provided on the day of the meeting here.
We reached out to PREIT for comment and they did not respond.
PREIT was represented by:
Marc Kaplin - Kaplin Stewart
Mark Shapiro - Barton and Partners
Joe DeSanits - McMahon Associates
Dan Herman - PREIT
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