York Twp. undecided on traffic light on Mount Rose Avenue
York Township commissioners recently delayed making a decision about installing a new traffic light at Mount Rose Avenue and Plymouth Road, giving township officials time to refine and investigate the proposed project.
During the meeting on Nov. 10, some elected officials and township residents also took aim at state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, who they claim is to blame for a permanent light not being installed.
Commissioner Robert Steele urged the people at the meeting to fix this problem “at the polls.”
“How can one person mess this up?” he asked.
Commissioner Paul Knepper said Saylor “doesn’t represent the township, but he holds the purse strings and gets to have the final say.”
The issue: At issue is where the light will be installed.
The state Department of Transportation awarded
$1.4 million in funding to build a connector road from Chambers Road to Mount Rose Avenue to allow for a light at the intersection of Mount Rose Avenue and Plymouth Road.
Some residents argued the road should intersect with Mount Rose Avenue between Plymouth and Chambers roads to save the township money, which would also make the commute shorter for residents.
The township will foot the bill for the rest of the expected $2 million cost and has previously allocated $600,000 toward it.
During a previous meeting between township and state officials, Saylor indicated he’d be in favor of the light being installed at a place other than Plymouth Road, said township commissioner Robert Kessler in a phone interview.
But Saylor, who previously represented the township in the state House, said in a phone interview the signal should go in at Plymouth Road. That location was recommended by state engineers as the safest option and has been advocated for by PennDOT.
PennDOT included a signalized Plymouth Road intersection on plans when they held a 2008 meeting detailing improvements to Mount Rose Avenue, but the plan met resistance from residents and the township.
“This is the perfect solution to a long-time problem,” Saylor said. “I don’t know what more we can do.”
No light: A signal at Chambers Road was removed last year to pave the way for an improvement project on Mount Rose Avenue.
Officials said that signal was unsafe and was too close to one at Route 24, known as Cape Horn Road, and Route 124, also called Mount Rose Avenue and East Prospect Road.
The removal drew the ire of residents from Starview Heights, who said the lack of a light makes it difficult and dangerous to enter and exit their development.
To ease their concerns, a temporary light was installed at Skylight Drive and Cape Horn Road. It’ll be removed after the Mount Rose Avenue project wraps up in the spring.
“We just want to give some relief to these people,” Kessler said. “They are waiting for us.”
Money: During the meeting, township commissioner Albert Granholm was firm in his resistance to the township’s requirement of paying the full $2 million up front, to be reimbursed by the state.
“With no state budget in place, where is the money going to come from?” he said.
But Saylor said the state’s share of the funding has already been released and isn’t affected by the budget impasse.
The funding does, however, expire. If it were not used by the township to build the connector road in a timely manner, it would be returned to state coffers. Saylor didn’t know how long the township has to spend the money.
Residents: Several residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Kelly Paraskevakos was adamant that the current situation is extremely unsafe.
“Each time we leave our neighborhood, we get more and more worried,” she told commissioners. “I know you want us to go away. I hope you can understand why we can’t go away. I’m terrified that one of us will be standing here next because someone has died.”
Saylor said he understands the frustration of residents. He drives through the area almost daily to get to Harrisburg.
But, he added, that frustration should be directed to the township, not at him. He — along with state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township; Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township; and former Rep. Ron Miller — have all worked on the situation at the state level.
“They’re (township officials) not being honest to those residents. It’s time for them to man up,” Saylor said. “It’s a shame for the residents.”
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.