Springfield Road northbound approaching Route 1
Anyone who actually drives our roads knows that these “improvements” would have no effect on our traffic problems. It's the intersections and road widths beyond those mentioned by Carlino which are the actual causes of the frustrating backups, not absent turn lanes at Dairy Queen and Popeye’s Chicken (see graphic below). Fundamental congestion causes would not be addressed at all. If traffic flow could be substantially improved by merely restriping Sproul or adding a couple of turn lanes, PennDOT would have done it long ago. In truth, nothing short of federal infrastructure funds or massive PennDOT spending would be enough to pay for widening the bridge over Route 1 at Sproul or buying up pieces of hundreds of properties along Springfield Road from, say, Rolling Road to West Chester Pike and from Beatty Road to Cardinal O’Hara in order to add lanes. It would take hundreds of millions of dollars to address the underlying deficiencies. Case in point: adding one lane each way to Route 322 from Route 452 to Route 1 is costing PennDOT in excess of $250 million... for just six miles of improvements.
Carlino wants 47 acres
One thing we keep hearing from supporters of Carlino's enormous regional shopping center is that the Marple Town Center is so good it sells itself. “Residents hardly need to be convinced of this shopping center’s benefits.” Yet Carlino’s super self-selling shopping center has needed multiple mailers, half a dozen full-page newspaper ads, various “working groups,” an open house at O’Hara, and a very aggressive cadre of supporters willing to say anything to get the Marple Town M👹nstR™ greenlighted. It's obvious that Carlino and their boosters don’t quite believe it's able to
Most magician's tricks involve focusing your attention on the wrong thing. This technique is called "misdirection" and it's used along with "sleight of hand" to fool an audience. Carlino the Illusionist is a master at these. To fool Marple and the other communities they're fighting (in New Castle County and East Brandywine Twp in Chester County), they're misdirecting your eye to their "improvements," diverting your attention to those minor modifications and away from the actual causes of congestion. They say, for example that they will add turn lanes to Sproul at Old Marple Road, add another turn lane at Lawrence Road and Sproul, and restripe Sproul Road so that there are five lanes instead of four from the cemetery to Old Marple Road. Surely these changes would make all of their new traffic volume practically vanish, right? Hardly. These small changes would do nothing to keep motorists from languishing in worse traffic volume.
One of their recent expensive ads demonstrated just how true this is. Not only are the developers trying to convince area residents that something more than 1/3rd the size of the King of Prussia Mall (in acres) and seven acres bigger than the Lawrence Park Shopping Center (and right next door to it) would be just wonderful. Like a magician, they're attempting to divert your eye from the new 23,000 average new daily vehicle trips that would enter and exit the center each day. (Note that this is the number of vehicle trips Carlino is admitting to which we believe is low by several thousand daily trips.) This huge increase in volume would be added to the existing 33,000 average daily trips PennDOT has counted on Sproul Road. To hide this mess, Carlino the Illusionist is resorting to a special kind of alchemy to turn those huge traffic numbers into bags of gold for their own private profit.
Carlino's ad says they will install "smart technology so the traffic signals adapt to real time traffic conditions." This fiction could be hazardous to your stress levels. How exactly will space age traffic signals ease congestion when:
1. traffic is heavy in all directions? and...
2. they’re only installed in the immediate area around Don Guanella? (Their ad only mentions two signals at Lawrence/Sproul and at O'Hara)
During peak hours, adaptive signals woul be no different than a garden variety traffic signal – assuming for the sake of argument these adaptive signals even work as advertised. Talk to anyone who's aged in crawling traffic on Route 202 between Route 1 and the Delaware State Line and they'll tell you those signals have a negligible effect. As the pictures below illustrate, traffic on Route 202 backs up from Route 1 all the way down to into Delaware even though every signalized intersection from the state line to Route 1 is “adaptive.” The so-called smart signals Carlino would install would be just as ineffective. Let's not forget that they would only be installed at the Springfield/Sproul split and at Lawrence and Sproul (according to their ad). That’s just two signals. It's not clear if they would add adaptive signals between Lawrence and O'Hara, but even if they did, there would be no "smart" signals beyond Paxon Hollow Road out to West Chester Pike or from O’Hara to Route 1 on both Sproul and Springfield Roads.
Short of these kinds of major infrastructure improvements, how on Earth would Carlino’s cosmetic retouches move another 23,000+ average daily vehicle trips through our area? They won’t, but they’re hoping you don’t notice until their regional shopping center is already built. Then it’s too late for you to sell your house and get at least what you paid for it. We can’t emphasize this enough: additional turn lanes on Sproul at the Dairy Queen and on Lawrence at Popeye's Chicken, and one extra lane on Sproul will do nothing to ease traffic backed up from Springfield Road out to West Chester Pike. Carlino simply cannot afford the millions it would take to have even the slightest impact on the logjam at Springfield Road and Route 1, at Sproul Road and Route 1, or any of the lights along Sproul from LP out to WC Pike. This is why they're resorting to misdirection in their newspaper advertisements: to conceal these more basic congestion causes. Carlino wants to make their millions each year (even if it's at your expense), so they need to convince you that they won't make traffic worse.
Carino's plan is too big for Marple
By Ken Hemphill
For the sake of argument, even if their smart lights moved traffic a little more efficiently through some intersections, everything would grind to a crawl just beyond the last adaptive signal. Plus, the only way to move one direction move more quickly is to make another direction wait longer. That means longer reds for cross traffic at Reed, Williamsburg, Lawrence Road or any other intersection they would magically adapt. It’s smoke and mirrors for us and millions in profits each year for Carlino.
Don't be fooled by Carlino's sleight of hand. To make their proposal more palatable to the community, they're conjuring up inexpensive and superficial lipstick fixes which would have already been implemented by PennDOT if that agency thought such minor alterations would do anything to alleviate our traffic headaches. But the engineers at PennDOT are smarter than the adaptive signals Carlino is selling. Without addressing the root causes of our traffic congestion – like overall volume and the big infrastructure picture – everything the Carlino illusionists are proposing is just a cheap parlor trick. The best course of action is to NOT make our traffic situation any worse with a regional shopping center.
Be sure to ask Marple's Commissioner's on August 13th (Marple Newtown High School, 7pm) to say NO to Carlino's requested rezoning unless the developer significantly downsizes the M👹nstR™.
*This is the number that Carlino's traffic engineer estimates. It couldn't possibly be a low estimate, right? We believe, based on comparisons to other shopping centers that the number of vehicle trips is closer to 30,000 and maybe as high as 35,000 vehicle trips on peak Saturdays.
Carlino the Illusionist
The price of too much development
Please also see our earlier articles
What about that extra turn lane on Lawrence Road at Sproul? Aside from being an acknowledgment that the M👹nstR™ would draw regional traffic from 476, what difference will another turn lane there make if no road widening will happen along the frontage of Lawrence Park Shopping Center? Pushing more vehicles through Lawrence and Sproul will not allow more vehicles to get through Williamsburg and Sproul or Reed and Sproul or Paxon Hollow and Sproul. And what about the thousands of additional neighborhood cut-through vehicle trips that will occur on Redhill, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Parkway and others? What about the impacts to secondary roads and other neighborhood streets? No mention of those in their advertisements. Carlino, in fact, has no intention of adding turn lanes or widening any of these roads: Burmont, Eagle, Crum Creek, Rolling, Springfield, Foulke, Warrior, Steel, Reed, or any others that would bear the burden of Carlino's additional traffic. What a quality of life nightmare.
Carlino's full court press
Route 1 southbound. Traffic backs up to Weymouth Road in Springfield
August 3, 2018
"Adaptive" signals: an essential part of the magician's toolkit