The Lower Providence Planning Commission continued with its discussion of the Ridge Pike Corridor revitalization plans at its Nov. 28 meeting.
The latest discussion about the Ridge Pike Corridor is the fifth at the commission’s monthly meetings, which started in June. As previously reported, this development project has been made possible through the completion of a public waterline project in the Evansburg area of the township.
The commission is looking to develop a vision for traffic, sidewalks/bike lanes, businesses and residential possibilities along Ridge pike from Trooper Road to the Collegeville Borough border.
This project has been broken into three sections of the pike:
- From Trooper Road (township border) to Park Avenue area
- From the Township Municipal Complex to Church Road
- From Level/Evansburg Road to the Perkiomen Bridge.
The Evansburg area has been labeled the first phase of the project, and has been the focus of discussion per the last few meetings.
In this first phase, the commission, along with Montgomery County senior planner Sean Metrick, has steadily given shape as to what the area could look like, through a combination of public discussion and workshops.
The Nov. 28 meeting was the final Phase 1 workshop, where commission members presented their ideas for Metrick to put together in a master plan. According to Metrick, the Phase 1 Ridge Pike Corridor Master Plan may be completed for presentation at the January Planning Commission meeting.
“I think I heard a consistent message about big ideas, where development should be constructed,” Metrick said.
He also noted that many of the ideas revolve around expected development, which may not reflect existing zoning and be feasible, but did encourage ideas throughout the workshop session.
Ridge and Germantown pikes
The workshop was divided into three groups, tasked with developing possibilities in three areas of the Ridge Pike west area. For this area, commission member Kristina O’Donnell noted that the biggest consideration in development would be flooding. Her group suggested that much of the area by the Perkiomen Creek should be limited to natural use, as in walking trails. Around the Collegeville Inn building, could be parking and little shops. The intersection of Germantown and Ridge pikes should also have gateway signage.
Ridge and Crosskeys
One of the consistent big ideas of the Ridge Pike Corridor project has been to increase the pedestrian use. Commission member Adam Supplee’s group suggested that having sidewalks and buildings closer to the street would be in sync with that idea.
He also said that the large field in front of the IBEW Local Union Hall could be used for public events, calling that area the “Mile-Hill Fairgrounds.” He said that the township hosts several engaging events throughout the year, and having them seen out in the open might be more attractive to potential residents and businesses.
Also in this area, in order to control traffic flow, Supplee’s group suggested narrowing lanes to two, with restrictions of left turns except at traffic lights.
His group also provided a wish list for the area:
- Ornamental lights
- Shade/Street trees
- Sidewalk benches/bike racks
- Outside dining
- Curb bump outs for parallel parking
- Developing vacant lots
- Bus Shelters
Most Heavily used SEPTA Route in Montgomery County
Mark Cassel, a SEPTA senior operations planner, also participated at the Nov. 28 meeting.
He told the commission that his interest in attending the meeting was to get a feel as to how new traffic patterns might affect SEPTA passengers.
He said that SEPTA Route 93, which follows the Ridge Pike Corridor, is one of the most heavily used routes in the entire county. According to Cassel, 387,400 passengers use the route from Norristown to Pottstown from July 2011 to June 2012; an average of 1,300 daily passengers during the week.
His concern was that narrowing lanes may cause a backup of traffic as passengers board and exit busses, which, in turn, may cause scheduling issues for SEPTA.
However, he also encouraged the potential for sidewalks and bus shelters for SEPTA customers.
“I’m interested in it because all our passengers are pedestrians at some point,” Cassel said.
Jason Sorgini, township board of supervisor and board liaison to the planning commission, informed the commission that the board is pursuing a grant to acquire nine new bus stop shelters, and noted the heavy bus usage along Ridge Pike.
Ridge and Level Road/DVRP Traffic Study
The final section addressed the area around Ridge Pike and Level Road. Commission member David Atkins focused specifically on controlling the traffic flow in this section, suggesting that residential and commercial buildings should have direct access routes and shared parking from the main road to the rear of such buildings.
In addition, fellow group and commission member Mark Kuberski suggested placing concrete or landscaped medians at certain points along the main road to control access points to Ridge Pike.
This group also suggested turning the apparently unused farm by Level Road into a farmer’s market.
Currently, the DVRPC (Delware Valley Regional Planning Commission) is conducting a traffic access management study coinciding with the Ridge Pike Corridor project.
Prior to the workshops, Michael Becker, DVRPC Senior Transportation Planner, said that results of the study may be expected by early next year.
In the meantime, further details about the study and the Ridge Pike Corridor development project may be obtained on a new webpage posted on the township’s website, under the “Ridge Pike Corridor Project.”