Kennett Township >> A near-capacity crowd gathered at Kennett Township’s municipal building Wednesday night to see if a roundabout was the answer to chronic congestion at the Five Points intersection.
And although an engineer made a presentation and the township supervisors deliberated the question, an attendee may have summed it up best.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said. “I think this is really the only option.”
The supervisors devoted most of their monthly meeting to a presentation and discussion on the subject led by Derrick Kennedy of the engineering firm Remington Vernick.
Kennedy said the firm had been working for about a year on ways to improve traffic flow at Five Points. The final recommendation, he said, was the roundabout concept.
Roundabouts take various forms, Kennedy said, but the modern roundabout Remington Vernick proposed would include yield signs to control the traffic, islands to split the incoming and exiting lanes and so discourage speeding, a mountable apron inside to help trucks navigate the turns, and low-growth landscaping.
These kinds of roundabouts have been found to be more efficient than traditional intersections, Kennedy said, and even better at reducing accident rates. In addition, he said, they promote a steady flow of traffic, rather than bursts of traffic from different directions as lights turn green.
The crowd raised few objections to the idea in itself, but had questions about financing, road closures, and the effect on nearby properties.
Kennedy said the project would cost an estimated $2.6 million. With grants and other funds available, the township’s portion of that would come to about $400,000, according to Township Supervisor Lisa Moore.
If the township supervisors began work on the planning and financing this year, it could be operational by 2021, Kennedy said. The construction would take about a year, and would require road closures at various points.
Moore said the township officials wanted to arrange the construction in phases so that not all the roads would have to be closed for the duration of the construction.
Residents and businesses located at the intersection would “have some property impact,” Kennedy said. The proposal was for either a 130-foot circular roundabout or an oval of the same width, and that and the road relocations would involve having to buy some property from adjacent landowners.
Moore said township officials had discussed the proposal with all the potentially affected landowners, and there were no plans to use eminent domain to take anyone’s property.
Scudder Stevens, chair of the board of supervisors, said evaluations of the Five Points congestion going back to 2006 had recommended the roundabout as the best solution.
In addition, Stevens said, PennDOT endorsed the idea. Because it owned two of the roads involved and would provide a great deal of the grant money to finance the project, the state had a strong voice in the decision, he said.
After various attendees urged that bicycles and pedestrians be considered in the planning, the supervisors voted unanimously to move forward to explore grant options before making any further decisions.
The supervisors also voted unanimously to appoint Diane McGovern to the township historical commission.