Rt. 222 bypass: Road, Street or Stroad?

I subscribe to a notion that to get the highest return on investment from roadways we should clearly define what they are supposed to accomplish. We should then design them to serve that purpose.

bypass

Pictured is the Rt. 222 Kutztown bypass. A well designed ROAD with on/off ramps and low accessibility paired with highway geometry allows for 55 mph speed limit. This ROAD safely moves automobiles quickly and efficiently through this corridor.

 

ROAD  

  • High speed by design 
  • Highway geometry
  • Low accessibility
  • A place for automobiles only. This facilitates safely moving them at high speeds.

 

 

East-Blvd-After-Dual-Left-Hard-Turn-Lane-e1357934233263

This picture is a similar representation of the Hamilton Boulevard vision outlined in the 2013 corridor study. This boulevard has Bike lanes, landscaped medians, street-trees and sidewalks to create a friendly pedestrian environment. Traffic travels at safe speed through calming measures. This means high land value for adjoining commercial properties. This STREET will generate a high return on investment for the community.

 

 

STREET 

      • Slow by design
      • Complex environment
      • High accessibility
      • A place to capture value and encourage commercial development
      • Designed for all modes of transportation. A generally pleasant environment.
      • Facilitates high value development

 




So which type is the the bypass and which is the boulevard? The argument I would make today is that they are both closer to side by side Stroads. A Stroad is a street/road hybrid. Where a futon is a piece of furniture that serves both as an uncomfortable couch and an uncomfortable bed, a STROAD moves cars at speeds far too slow to get around efficiently but way too fast to support productive private sector investment. The result is an expensive mess that really does nothing well. As taxpayers why do we spend public money on very expensive things that don’t accomplish any goal particularly well?

 

STROAD

Here is the Macarther Rd. STROAD. An obviously dangerous place for pedestrians. But despite highway geometry this does not move automobiles quickly or efficiently either. Lots of accidents. Dangerous for automobiles. Dangerous for pedestrians. Very expensive to build and maintain. Jarring environment. Not very pleasant place.

STROAD 

      • Does not move automobiles quickly or safely
      • Dangerous for pedestrians
      • Very expensive to build and maintain
      • Encourages low value development.

 







Side by side stroads is the direction we’re headed today.

STROADS are the futon of the transportation network.

STROADS are the futon of the transportation network.

On the Rt 222 bypass today we clearly have a stroad. It was built with highway geometry but because of traffic signals instead of on/off ramps we’re limited to a 45 mph. Therefore the bypass doesn’t move cars very efficiently or quickly. Because it doesn’t our increasing volume of local freight traffic reacts logically by using shortcuts and local roads. The bypass is also very dangerous. The Millcreek intersection particularly. The whole thing is quite frankly a speed trap since the posted speed doesn’t correspond to the design speed. Therefore: STROAD

On the the boulevard we have a developing stroad. As of late township staff worked hard to require higher quality development. (I acknowledge that but we still have work to do. And the bar was very low..and that we are constrained by our dated zoning code) Still, most road improvements have been of a stroad flavor. This directly conflicts with stated goals of safety, value and walkability. It also fundamentally encourages low value strip development. For ex. planned driveways off of Hamilton Crossings will be super sized and therefore super fast. That will not make it a very safe place for people. Therefore businesses will respond rationally and over build parking lots, seek oversized signage, supersized driveways ect. All this eventually compounds and you wake up one day with Macarther Rd.

To fix this we need to STOP and all get on the same page and decide once and for all what purpose we want these two roads to serve.

Keys:
Bypass – Purpose to move cars efficiently and quickly between clusters of destinations

  • Grade separation on the bypass. Get rid of the signals and build ramps.
  • Raise the speed limit to 55
  • Limit access

Boulevard – A vibrant community center. A multi-modal corridor.

  • Calm traffic using techniques/strategies outlined in Penndots smart transportation manual.
  • Transit corridor
  • Make safe for everyone. Sidewalks, landscaped medians and bike lanes
  • People oriented
  • Fix our zoning code to allow high value development (as opposed to only strip malls)
    • Neighborhood Commercial