— Bart Friebolin, Upper Macungie Township
A: Even in leafless early January when I visited, the North Lane sign (and the Haasadahl Road marker, which also had been moved), were utterly invisible from Haasadahl, which is the main drag (or as close as it gets to one in this gorgeously rural area of the Lehigh Valley).
I should have turned the key on this issue sooner, Bart, but I reasoned that traffic was extremely light on North Lane — that's part of the lure of living there, I would think — and that, while the new sign location constituted an error, it wasn't a grievous one. I figured I'd look into it when I got a chance, and my mind let the issue drift off of the road for a while.
When I finally called a week ago to see if anything had changed, you gave me the good news, and the bad: The sign recently had been restored to its original, visible position on Haasadahl about a week earlier, but only after an instance in which an ambulance missed the turn to get the township into gear.
John Trumbauer of North Lane, to whose home the ambulance was summoned, visited Upper Macungie officials afterward to tell them about the missed-turn incident, and that turned the key on the solution. The delay was not long, Trumbauer said, adding that Cetronia Ambulance personnel quickly realized they must have missed the turn and arrived quickly. But the point about the potential for real harm had been made.
Trumbauer said he's satisfied with the township's (eventual) restoration of the street-name signs to a dedicated pole on Haasadahl.
Township Supervisor Kathy Rader and Public Works Director Scott Faust agreed that your initial request to move the sign should not have been rejected, Bart. You couldn't remember who emailed in that regard, but whoever received your suggestion should have considered it more carefully, especially the part about emergency vehicles. I should have gotten off the starting line faster, and the same goes for the township.
Faust said the sign was moved in the first place as part of a systematic effort to consolidate rural street-name signs from separate posts to those bearing stop signs. It's one less pole to maintain, and problems such as this one hadn't arisen previously, Faust said. The next street to the east on Haasadahl is Beechwood Street, and there, the street-name signs on the stop-sign post readily are visible from Haasadahl.
The problem with the initial North Lane sign relocation is that the stop sign itself is posted about 40 feet back, away from Haasadahl, on North Lane. The concrete storm-sewer inlet at the corner might pose an obstacle to the perfect location of the post, but it seems the sign still could be moved much closer to Haasadahl, or a stop line painted there to clarify the necessary stopping point. For traffic approaching the stop sign, the embankment to the right, or west, obliterates the sight-line in that direction at the point where the stop sign is posted.
As we learned in the case of the way-way-back stop sign on Seidersville Road at Old Philadelphia Pike in Bethlehem, motorists do not necessarily have to stop at the point where a stop sign is located. But in cases where unusual sign placement (usually well in advance of the intersection) can't be avoided, stop lines are particularly helpful. If stop lines are absent, you're required to stop before entering a crosswalk, or in the absence of that, then "at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering [the intersection]."
Again, traffic is extremely light on North Lane, and even on Haasadahl in this area, but effective safety engineering is important nonetheless.
Still, regarding the poor location of the sign, after hitting a bit of a speed-bump, the township completed the trip successfully, nudged on by the ambulance incident.
"I'm not blaming anybody for the mishap," Trumbauer said. "Everybody's very happy [the sign has been] put back where it was. They did correct the problem; that's all that matters to me."
Bart, next time you have a picnic or other social gathering at your beautiful property, your guests won't have to be grousing about all the trouble they had finding the place.
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