Increased Local Traffic
This page deals with the issue of increased local traffic.
In testimony from 2001, before the New Hanover Township Zoning Hearing Board, the traffic engineer for Gibraltar Rock stated it is estimated that approximately 500,000 tons of material will be removed from the quarry each year, in loads of 25 tons. This means Route 73, Rt. 663, and Swamp Pike will suffer 20,000 more truck trips each year as a result of the proposed quarry.
The population of New Hanover Township has tripled since 2001 when the above testimony was given. With increased population comes increased passenger cars and school buses, which will all be vying with quarry truck traffic.
Hours of Operation
Approximately 90 trucks will enter and exit the facility each day of operation. During the normal working week, trucks will enter and exit the site from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. These hours are expected to extend to 10 p.m. during peak construction seasons. However, PennDOT has been performing more and more night work in recent years.
The quarry will be supplying materials to PennDOT worksites, therefore the truck traffic may continue all night long during some periods.
Affect on Local Roads
Once the trucks leave the site, 30% are expected to head east along Route 73, and 70% are expected to head west. Trucks heading east are expected to go to Silvi’s other plants in Bucks County, and to local job sites. The trucks that head west are expected to go to Silvi’s Limerick plant, to Silvi’s other plants in southern New Jersey via Route 422, and to local job sites.
The anticipated route to the Route 422 corridor is via Route 73 to Route 663 to Swamp Pike, and then to Ridge Pike or Lewis Road. Anyone who drives the Route 422 corridor between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. knows that this roadway often experiences severe traffic delays. Mr. Silvi has stated that his driver’s wages are based in part by the number of loads they move. One can only assume the drivers will find alternate routes around Route 422 in order to expedite their deliveries. Alternate routes may include: Route 73 through Gilbertsville to Route 100; Route 663 to the PA Turnpike at Quakertown; Route 73 east to Township Line Road or Perkiomenville Road, then to Route 63 and the PA Turnpike at Lansdale.
Trucks that use the Route 73 to Route 663 path to Swamp Pike will be making a left turn at the western intersection of Route 73 and Route 663. This intersection already has a history of accidents and near misses. The nearby intersection of Route 73 and Ludwig Road is also on the anticipated truck route, and it too has a history of rear-end accidents and numerous near misses.
Conflicts with school buses
One of the peak traffic hours for the quarry is expected to be 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. This directly coincides with the time frame of the local school bus runs along Route 73. Operations at the quarry that result in a peak period of truck traffic between 2 and 3 p.m. expose our children to the greatest possible safety risk.
During testimony on July 25, 2001, John Silvi explained that tri-axle trucks and tractor-trailers will be leaving the proposed quarry and turning right onto Rt. 73.
They will travel past the intersection of Rt. 73 and Rt. 663 (near Hickory Park), and continue up the grade and turn left back onto Rt. 663, past the township building to the traffic light at Rt. 663 and Swamp Pike. From there the trucks, which may contain up to 500,000 pounds of rock, will turn left and travel Swamp Pike to Limerick and beyond.
Depending on who was asked, the number of truck trips was estimated at being between one every four minutes to one every ten minutes.
Traffic Impact Study and Testimony
The Silvi’s hired Mr. David Horner of the traffic-engineering firm of Horner-Canter Associates as the consultant for the preparation of their Traffic Impact Study, and to provide expert testimony at the Township Zoning Hearings on the quarry.
Mr. Horner’s study considers only the intersection of Route 73 and Church Road, and the eastern intersection of Route 73 and Route 663. The study concludes that the quarry will have no adverse impact to the surrounding traffic in the area, and does not generate enough traffic to warrant any type of public improvement.
During sworn witness testimony, Mr. Horner errantly testified that the posted speed limit on Route 73 at the driveway location is 45 mph (it’s not posted and therefore 55 mph), and that the only public roadway intersections within one-half mile are Church Road to the east, and the two intersection of Route 663 to the west (this would omit Ludwig Road). These statements are gross misrepresentations of basic, simple facts and cast suspicion on the validity of the study and testimony.
The conceptual plan for the quarry indicates that a single driveway is proposed for access to and from the site. The driveway would be located on Route 73 at the southwest corner of the property, approximately one-third of a mile east of Route 663.