Allentown
34° F
Clear
Clear

Safety change coming to accident-prone Emmaus street

By Randy Kraft, WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 18 2014 05:46:09 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 18 2014 05:56:51 AM CDT
Emmaus Borough Council 3-17-14
EMMAUS, Pa. -

The first step toward improving traffic safety on a short street that has generated too many accidents was taken by Emmaus borough council Monday night.

An ordinance prohibiting left turns from Green Drive onto Cedar Crest Boulevard unanimously was approved by council on first reading, with final approval tentatively scheduled for its April 7 meeting.

Council is making the change after Emmaus police reported 27 accidents occurred at that intersection since 2007, including 13 with injuries.

Many people, even Emmaus residents, probably could not point to the location of Green Drive on a borough map.

But they've been on it if they ever drove on the service road running behind the East Penn Plaza shopping center, which faces Chestnut Street at the southwest end of the borough.

Green Drive connects with Cedar Crest Boulevard behind Santander Bank, runs between the strip mall and the apartment complex behind it, then turns to connect with Chestnut Street between the Auto Zone store and Italiano Delite restaurant.

If the ordinance gets final approval by council, motorists on Green Drive no longer will be allowed to turn left onto Cedar Crest Boulevard, which involves crossing three lanes of traffic just off the busy intersection of Cedar Crest and Chestnut Street.

It's very hard to pull out, especially because there is limited visibility to see fast-moving traffic coming down Cedar Crest toward Chestnut.

After the ordinance gets final approval, there will be a 90-day trial period for the new no-left-turn rule.

Council gave the ordinance an initial vote of approval with no discussion.

Plans for the other end of Green Drive

Council learned that the developer of the proposed Fields at Indian Creek development plans to extend the southwest end of Green Drive behind the Auto Zone store and over Lieberts Creek into the development.

But the proposed extension won't become a public road, said council president Lee Ann Gilbert. It will only provide access for emergency vehicles to get into the development.

Council's public safety committee is supporting that extension of Green Drive, said Gilbert, who chairs that committee. She said the developer, Kay Builders, will be responsible for building a bridge over the creek. She added that bridge will be in Upper Milford Township.

Council member Brent Labenberg asked if there is any chance Green Drive could become a public road linking the development with Emmaus.
He would like Green Drive to become a through road, even if people won't be able to turn left off it onto Cedar Crest Boulevard.

But Gilbert said it will be for emergency access only and will have some kind of barricade that prevents the public from driving on it.

"If it is going to be emergency access only, it needs to be gated so our emergency vehicles can be the only vehicles that go through there," said borough manager Shane Pepe.

Pepe added people living in the development will be able to walk on the emergency access road to the Chestnut Street commercial district.

Fields at Indian Creek is a proposed 211-home development for people
55 and older in Emmaus, as well as Upper Milford and Lower Macungie townships. It will be built on 72 acres of the Indian Creek Golf Course, which is along the Pennsylvania Turnpike just north of Chestnut Street.

As planned, many people will use Indian Creek Road off Cedar Crest to access Fields Indian Creek. Labenberg said the Indian Creek/Cedar Crest intersection - a Y-shaped split on the side of a hill with no traffic signals -- already is dangerous.

But Pepe said a traffic access study has determined accessing Chestnut Street from Green Drive would be even more dangerous than accessing Cedar Crest at Indian Creek Road.

The borough manager said numerous expensive intersection improvements would have to be made if Green Drive became a public road and the developers "have made it very clear that they want to do this project as cheap as they can."

He indicated a much more expensive bridge would have to be built if an extension of Green Drive became public right-of-way, because it would have to be approved by PennDOT. "They're not interested in that kind of expense either," said Pepe.

Discussion about another short street

Neil Carl, who owns properties at 7 S. First Street and 106 Main Street in Emmaus, told council he has concerns about plans to vacate the end of S. First Street.

Carl realizes it's a dead end street, but maintained a half dozen people park their cars on the part of the street that council intends to vacate. He indicated even more park there on weekends.

He said people regularly parking there live in nearby apartments and homes along Main Street.

"If you vacate that street where are all these people going to start parking their cars?" asked Carl.

He has two parking lots there and said he already constantly is chasing people off his lots.

S. First Street runs along the side of the magisterial district court at 106 Main St.

In January, council voted to vacate the portion of S. First Street bordering 44 Klines Lane, so the owners of Motors Plus would have enough land to meet parking requirements for their business.

But Pepe told Carl that motion was only to start moving forward with the process.

Carl was told a hearing will be held before council takes final action on passing an ordinance to vacate the end of that street and that passing that ordinance will be a two-meeting process, with first and second readings.

After the meeting, Pepe said that street vacation should come up for a first reading at the last council meeting in April or the first in May.

Labenberg told Carl the borough intends to keep First to beyond the point where an alley turns off it.