Murrysville’s former engineer gave its council a few options for modifying local roads to accommodate the additional traffic generated by the proposed Sloan elementary campus project, ranging from $75,000 up to $1.5 million.
They were only ballpark estimates, but gave council members a better sense of what could be necessary if they approve the project.
Council asked Joe Dietrick of Markosky Engineers to review the Franklin Regional School District’s traffic study for the elementary campus project. Dietrick said the study was consistent with the way PennDOT officials conduct their traffic studies.
“They did the study as pretty much anyone else has done, and I believe their conclusions are valid,” Dietrick told council.
Resident and former school board president Dick Kearns pointed to a section of the municipal code which states that if a development is projected to have “an adverse impact” on traffic, council can require changes to the plan to lessen those impacts.
“You’re responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens, and traffic is one of the biggest issues affecting those things,” Kearns said. “How do we know when we have an acceptable traffic situation?”
Within the site
The school district’s study, completed by Trans Associates, suggested several mitigation measures that would be built alongside the school renovation and construction, including:
• Constructing a driveway along Crowfoot Road opposite Longview Court, and working with the municipality to clear sight lines, particularly for Longview Court.
• Implement a 15 mile-per-hour school speed zone along sections of Crowfoot and Sardis roads in the area of the school. This would require PennDOT approval and could only be implemented during certain hours of the school day.
• Realigning the existing Crowfoot Road driveway approximately 75 feet to the east where it intersects Crowfoot Road to provide additional queuing length between Sardis Road and the driveway along Crowfoot Road.
• Separating car traffic from bus traffic by realigning the main Sloan driveway.
• Creating a jughandle near the existing traffic circle at the front of Sloan Elementary to better accommodate turning buses around.
Outside the property
Crowfoot Road has been a major point of contention among opponents of the project, who have said it is too narrow to properly accommodate the additional bus traffic.
“Crowfoot (Road) was never really built,” Dietrick said. “It kind of grew along with the community. Certainly it was not built for that kind of (bus) turning movement. That will not work.”
One of his suggestions was a sort of “mini-roundabout” along Crowfoot that includes Longview Court and the proposed bus entrance for the new elementary school.
“There’s a traffic circle right now on the property, in front of the existing school,” Dietrick said. “So a bus can navigate it.”
He estimated it would cost roughly $400,000 to build.
Other options included:
• Removing the sidewalks along the Crowfoot Road bridge off Sardis Road, which would widen the bridge and make bus turning easier. Price tag: about $75,000.
• Installing a left-turn lane on Sardis at the Crowfoot Road intersection. Price tag: about $210,000.
• Installing a left-turn lane from Sardis onto School Road, which Dietrick was not in favor of. “We have a three-way stop there now,” he said. “I’m not sure there’s much benefit in establishing that turn lane.” Price tag: about $225,000.
• Welding a metal plate to the underside of the bridge leading directly to Sloan Elementary. Price tag: about $100,000.
• Turning Crowfoot into a road that meets municipal standards with 12-foot travel lanes and 6-foot berms. Price tag: about $1.5 million.
Dietrick said that asking the school district to standardize Crowfoot would not be out of line.
“If that was a Walmart going in there, it would not be unreasonable for them to improve the entire frontage they’re dealing with,” he said. “I think it does fit with past practices we’ve used in dealing with developers.”
But even if council did require the school district to fund some combination of improvements, it would ultimately still be local taxpayers footing the bill.
Municipal chief administrator Jim Morrison said the price estimates Dietrick provided would likely end up being higher, “given the challenge with utilities and property acquisition.”
Kearns echoed the sentiments of several other residents opposed to the project, who have said the rural location accessible only by two-lane roads is the wrong place for the district to expand.
“We don’t have any problem with what they’re doing in terms of education,” Kearns said. “But if they’re going to have a negative impact on traffic, they ought to do it somewhere else.”
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.