To Mr. Tom Walter, Traffic Unit, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
I am writing to you concerning the Central Business District Traffic Improvement Plan for Tamaqua. I was disappointed, and rather astonished, to learn at a recent Borough Council meeting that your final draft of the plan does not include the addition of "left turning arrows" at the Five-Points intersection on Route 309 Southbound and Northbound.
As you may be aware, several years ago Tamaqua borough undertook an engineering study of its own in an effort to improve both safety and traffic flow within the borough. One of the most important aspects the borough wanted incorporated into that plan were the left-turn arrows I refer to.
As you are also probably aware through your study of the intersection, this intersection has peak traffic "days" as opposed to just "times". From Wednesday through Friday, for the majority of daylight hours the intersection has a logjam and of special concern is making left turns from Route 309 in either direction. Because of the impeded flow, many are stuck in the intersection middle and thus turning after the signal becomes red. This occurs thousands of time per week and it is only a matter of time until a serious injury occurs. Accidents are not uncommon due to this situation.
I am asking that you reconsider the Central Business District TIP and incorporate the left-turn arrows on Route 309. Though I understand that will slow the flow to a degree, if the arrows are "looped", such a period should be insignificant. More importantly, the safety value gained far outweighs any other matter. Many things can be done to improve traffic flow, such as eliminating the yielding of a vehicle to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but would not even be seriously considered because of the safety compromise.
The borough also would gain relief in other areas of town from the implementation I speak to. Right now, traffic causes serious congestion in the Middleward areas of Rolling Mill Avenue, Pine Street, and their connecting side streets. The borough has had to place stop signs for safety reasons on the side streets. Council has also heard from concerned young mothers who live on Rolling Mill Avenue that fear their children are going to be run over with the abundance of vehicle traffic. This is a direct result of not having a left-turn arrow at the intersection on Route 309 Southbound. The addition of such would improve this situation.
Similarly, the same thing is the case in our Southward neighborhood, which is the area of our high school and community college. There is certainly too much traffic traveling through this residential neigborhood as well. I believe the placement of a left-turn arrow on route 309 Northbound at the five-points intersection would lessen the flow through the Southward and enhance the safety of the area.
I, as well as the residents of Tamaqua area, feel it is imperative to have these signals. I believe you will hear the same from Borough Council officially. In the event your reconsideration does not include this, I would strongly urge you hold a public meeting to explain the reasoning. However, I am confident your reconsideration will lead to these safety improvements.
Thank you for your time and your ongoing effort to improve safety and traffic flow in Tamaqua. This is nearly a decade in planning and desperately needed. If I can be of any assistance to this effort, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Michael J. Polyak