Lower Merion police, a Pennoni traffic engineer and Board of Commissioners President Liz Rogan met with Wynnewood and Shortridge Civic Association members on Monday night to discuss possible traffic changes on E. Wynnewood Road.
The discussion, which about 15 neighbors attended, was primarily an effort to determine if a reconfiguration of the E. Wynnewood Road and Williams Road intersection could allow for more street parking for Wynnewood Park Apartments residents, though talk also turned to other traffic concerns along the road.
The apartment complex, located on E. Wynnewood Road at the Williams Road intersection, lost about 20 parking spaces when PennDOT added a 2-to-1 merge lane east of the Williams Road intersection several years ago, Lower Merion police Sgt. Bill Boegly said. Before the merge lane was created, however, residents could not park on Wynnewood Road during peak hours; as a trade off for losing about 20 spaces, they were granted permission to park in the remaining Wynnewood Road spots 24/7.
Prior to creating the merge lane, Boegly said, about 10 accidents occured per year near Williams Road. Now, with the merge lane, two accidents have occured in a year and a half, he said.
Only One Through-Lane On E. Wynnewood Road?
Monday night, Pennoni traffic engineer Brian Keaveney presented a sketch plan for the intersection that received mixed reactions from neighbors, primarily due to traffic concerns.
The plan would call for removing the merge lane east of Williams Road and returning it to parking for Wynnewood Park residents. Between Penn Road and Williams Road, the righthand lane, currently a through lane, would become a right-turn only lane onto Williams Road. With only one through lane on E. Wynnewood Road west of Williams Road, there would be no need for a merge lane.
The change would help solve parking concerns for Wynnewood Park residents, and Boegly said he would not anticipate an increase in accidents at the intersection were the new plan implemented.
General consensus among neighbors seemed to be that traffic on E. Wynnewood Road moves too fast—and Shortridge Civic Association President Joan Hindin noted that recreating the E Wynnewood Road parking spaces could have a traffic calming effect, slowing down speeding drivers.
However, residents raised concerns about whether such a change might back up traffic between Williams Road and Lancaster Avenue in a way that is untenable.
Furthermore, several variables had not been considered in traffic projections, as residents pointed out: Pennoni had not considered the plans in conjunction with the proposed expanded Whole Foods Market, nor the new Comprehensive Plan for the township that is currently in the works, Keaveney said. Also, traffic projections were calculated from numbers taken last spring—but if the old Borders space at the Wynnewood Shopping Center indeed becomes an LA Fitness, such projections will likely be low, one resident pointed out.
From comments made during the meeting, it appeared residents were divided on whether a right-turn only lane would be more beneficial than disadvantageous, and even whether such a change was warranted for the addition of 20 parking spaces.
A Traffic Light For E. Wynnewood Road and N. Wynnewood Road?
Discussion turned during the night to a traffic problem slightly further east, at the intersection of E. Wynnewood Road and N. Wynnewood Road, where the tunnel to Narberth is located. Multiple residents asked Keaveney whether a traffic light installation at the intersection would be possible, along with a pedestrian crosswalk.
Since E. Wynnewood Road is a PennDOT highway, it must meet certain criteria before a traffic light or crosswalk can be installed, Keaveney said. After a previous study, it was determined that a crosswalk was not an option for the intersection.
However, the intersection has seen increased traffic with the closing of the Narberth bridge, so a traffic light—though perhaps only a temporary one—could be within the realm of possibility, Keaveney said.
Adding a traffic light at the difficult intersection, Wynnewood Civic Association President Teri Simon said, "would solve the most problems with one solution," suggesting that it could even be a shared expense between Lower Merion Township and Narberth.
While discussion was animated, opinions were also divided on solutions to both intersections. No steps will be taken to move forward with any plans in the near future, as the purpose of the meeting was only to gauge the opinions of the neighborhood, Keaveney said.
Do you travel E. Wynnewood Road often? What do you see as the biggest traffic concerns, and how would you fix them? Tell us in the comments.