Swarthmore Borough Council
By Chris Reynolds
At its legislative session on Monday, March 13, Swarthmore Borough Council voted to proceed with phase two of the traffic calming measures suggested in a report by the borough’s engineering consultant Pennoni Associates to reduce the speed of traffic on Yale Avenue. This phase will involve installing two sets of “speed cushions” at equidistant intervals of about 1,200 feet between Chester Road and Swarthmore Avenue. The engineer’s recommendations last fall cited PennDOT reports which suggest the potential for 15% reduction in speed and 30% reduction in traffic volume where speed cushions are installed. Unlike speed humps spanning the width of the road, speed cushions leave gaps which allow wide-axle emergency vehicles to pass without having to reduce speed.
Council president David Grove was among three members (joining Michael Carey and David Murphy) who opposed the measure, dissenting at some length. He pointed out that phase one of the traffic calming plan — two solar-powered digital speed readouts now in place — have already reduced average speeds significantly, thus limiting the incremental benefits of further measures. Further, Grove said, traffic cushions or humps could create noise problems beyond what now exists — “harm I am not willing to inflict on neighbors for an uncertain benefit.”
Grove and other Council members favor adoption of phase three of the engineer’s report: the installation of “bulb-outs” which would extend the curb into the shoulder of the road at intersections on Yale. In conjunction with signage and crosswalks, these extensions would serve not only to visually narrow the roadway, but also to shorten the pedestrian crossing distance. Following discussion, Council decided to defer such installation pending study of the effectiveness of three such bulb-outs to be constructed this summer on Chester Road at Harvard Avenue, Yale and Rutgers avenues, and Yale and Harvard.