— Noreen Kromer, Weisenberg Township
But Erdman said it's unlikely a traffic signal will be installed there. Signals on private property are rare in our region (only one I'm aware of is at the Northampton Crossing Mall lot in Lower Nazareth Township), and Erdman said the intersection near Giant wouldn't come close to meeting traffic-volume and other benchmarks for a light.
The engineer slammed the brakes on four-way stop signs as well, mostly because halting the incoming traffic could create lines that extend back onto Hamilton Boulevard, blocking traffic on the thoroughfare. A traffic signal carries the same burden during inbound red intervals.
Even if township engineers designed such a plan, PennDOT would reject it, Erdman said: "PennDOT does not want the traffic to queue onto Hamilton Boulevard in any way, shape or form."
OK, so if the intersection is too close to Hamilton, why not simply pull it back to the south, away from the boulevard and closer to the stores? Erdman hadn't seen the plans in some time when I talked to him, but he said the intersection likely would have to be moved too far back to significantly affect the queuing problem, and added that my solution requires moving the crossroad too, causing problems of its own.
Erdman said development of the shopping center is continuing, with new stores still to be added, and traffic patterns could be tweaked as that progresses. Based on his experience, motorists will become more accustomed to the intersection in question as time passes, he said.
Lower Macungie Township Planning Director Sara Pandl said the township has received complaints about the intersection, and that improvements might be considered, but she also cited concerns about lines of traffic extending onto Hamilton.
I have a suggestion: Post the small "3-way" signs beneath the stop signs at the intersection, and possibly an "opposing traffic does not stop" sign for eastbound motorists facing Hamilton.
Of course, generally folks should try to be a little more cautious in situations such as this, with new traffic patterns in effect. Which leads us to a similar road: A truckload of changes are being made at the Walmart shopping center in Whitehall Township, including to the traffic plan, and mostly for the better. (The shopping center has an official name, but I get so confused between the names of all the different centers along MacArthur Road in the township that I detour them completely and use the larger stores as locaters.)
Best of all, I think, is extension of the north-south access road that runs through the middle of the parking lot. In the previous configuration, the road ended in front of Sam's Club, forcing southbound traffic to the east, to the front of the store and all the pedestrian traffic, or to the west, to the ring road, to reach Schadt Avenue. When the work is completed and the Super Walmart opens, the access road will continue directly to Schadt.
To prevent the road from becoming a drag strip, four intersections, each with four-way stop signs, will be added along its path, said township Mayor Ed Hozza. PennDOT doesn't allow the use of stop signs for speed control, but as this regulation often is ignored by municipalities on their own streets, skirting it shouldn't raise so much as a ripple on a private road.
The horrible three-way stop intersection at the access road and Sutler Drive (the east-west road that leads to MacArthur Road) will become a four-way stop, according to plans. That's a huge improvement, and though it raises the queuing problem cited by Erdman in the Trexlertown example, Sutler is not the only option for inbound traffic here: A significant amount can enter from Royal Avenue or from Schadt, which should help prevent lines of inbound traffic on Sutler extending onto MacArthur.
Unfortunately, the Whitehall plans do not specify elimination of the absurd "taper" markings that artificially shorten the stacking capacity of Sutler's left-turn lanes to MacArthur. The tapers are intended to prevent sideswipes, but in this application, that's ridiculous. Hordes of people utterly ignore them — no way will motorists stay off those tapers to wait in longer lines with plenty of room available. Traffic engineers likewise should ignore whatever knee-jerk rule exists to paint probably half of these markings.
Overall though, this looks like a good plan, one that eliminates the kind of well-intentioned "traffic calming" design that is overdone at many new parking lots, such as the Crest Plaza shopping center lot in South Whitehall Township, where a multitude of planter islands force motorists to take twisting, counter-intuitive routes through the lot. I hope the Whitehall plan signals a trend back toward more "open" parking-lot designs.
Road Warrior appears Mondays and Fridays, and the Warrior blogs at mcall.com. Email questions about roadways, traffic and transportation, with your name and the municipality where you live, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Road Warrior, Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105-1260.