Wynnewood Road Stoplight Petition Gets Lower Merion Commissioners' Attention

A pedestrian being struck in December has spurred discussion of the three-way intersection at the curve of East Wynnewood Road and North Wynnewood Avenue.

A public petition to install a traffic signal at East Wynnewood Road and North Wynnewood Avenue—spurred by an accident there in December that left a teenage pedestrian hospitalized—gained traction Wednesday night at a meeting of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners.

Pam Loughman, a Merion Station resident who works in Narberth, started the petition after the Dec. 13 collision. It also calls for crosswalk installation.

East Wynnewood Road marks, starting at North Wynnewood Avenue, the boundary between the borough of Narberth and Lower Merion's Wynnewood section. North Wynnewood Avenue tunnels under the Amtrak/SEPTA railroad tracks into Narberth just above the intersection, where East Wynnewood Road curves significantly.

Traffic entering Wynnewood Road from Narberth observes a stop sign for those turning east and a yield for those heading west. Wynnewood Road traffic is unimpeded in both directions at the intersection. Sidewalks run along both sides of Wynnewood Road east of the intersection, but only on the south side to the west. No crosswalks are present.

"It's an intersection that has always concerned me," Loughman, a 14-year resident, told the township's Police Committee.

Because of the Narberth playground and ballfields, apartments, the Wynnewood Road retail presence and the Wynnewood train station, the intersection will always have a lot of pedestrian travel, Loughman said: "Something needs to be done to account for it."

Her petition had 419 signatures by late Wednesday night.

"I think it's very well known in the community that this intersection needs some attention to make it safer," Loughman told the board.

Board President Liz Rogan asked Police Superintendent Michael McGrath whether township staff could study potential intersection improvements—at what she called "really a pretty complicated area"—and report back at another meeting soon.

McGrath said they would, adding that a previous traffic study of the intersection in question resulted in lane-alignment changes, and since then, "overall, the number of collisions has gone down drastically."

Commissioner Cheryl Gelber told her colleagues, "I totally support Liz's request that we study all those intersections on Wynnewood Road ... It's a rough place."

Commissioner Jane Dellheim voiced her support and asked Loughman whether she had considered speaking with the Narberth Borough Council about the issue. Loughman said she had heard encouraging things outside of the council chamber from borough officials—"They're taking it very seriously"—but said she also intended to raise the matter publicly at the borough meeting Monday, Jan. 14.

Carl Watson, resident of the Shortridge neighborhood near the intersection, spoke after Loughman.

"I remember the civic trying to get a light there in the early '80s, so I think I can say Shortridge would still support it now," Watson said. "Perhaps it would seem appropriate to slow the traffic down at that curve."

Lower Merion Commissioner Brian Gordon several months ago spoke in general terms with Narberth officials about the intersection's traffic demand, which has increased since the Narberth Avenue bridge shut down in August.

Wednesday night, Gordon said, "Generally, I think traffic lights should be done judiciously," but that the situation at Wynnewood and Wynnewood seemed to call for one.

Other business

Also Wednesday night, McGrath announced burglary charges have been filed in a series of three Villanova break-ins in October.

From Oct. 8 through Oct. 10, McGrath said, William Coit, 23, of Philadelphia broke into homes on the 1400 block of Lanes End, the 500 block of Spruce Lane and the 700 block of Cedar Lane.

Coit is being held in the Montgomery County Justice Facility, McGrath said.

Tom DelMonte January 03, 2013 at 02:08 PM
This intersection, without a doubt, needs to be addressed. Crossing it on foot or with a bike is nearly impossible, and quite dangerous as the article states. And with the Narberth bridge being out, this is one of the only exits out of the north side of Narberth and traffic is a nightmare. With the bridge replacement slated for 2014 and lasting 12+ months, I hope something can get done this year.
Ryan January 03, 2013 at 03:52 PM
I think a traffic light is a little overkill unless it's automated based on traffic (ie. Only changing when cars are sitting on N Wynnewood and when pedestrians push a button to cross the street. Otherwise, why not an upgraded version of the lighted cross walks they have on Lancaster with more of an alert down the road in each direction. I never see left turn traffic getting grossly backed up. You have lights about 100 yards in each direction on E Wynnewwod that stop the flow of traffic and allow turns. But the majority of the flow of traffic is on E Wynnewood. A temporary traffic change due to the bridge closure should not be a reason for a permanent change. Haven't seen any traffic studies or accident numbers since the lane assignments have been changed, and not that I don't feel for the kid and family involved in the accident, but people do stupid things all the time and usually due to the lack of paying attention. It's easy to overreact when something like this happens. When was the last time a pedestrian was struck at this intersection or there has been a major accident? What was more of a pressing issue was the light being out at Lancaster and Argyle for so long the other week. Think I drove by twice and saw the aftermath of two accidents. It was down for almost a week, and people on Argyle are impatient and people on Lancaster constantly speed. Cops also seem to spend time policing 25mph zones yet people fly down 35mph roads at 50 with rarely a worry.
Michael Alexander January 04, 2013 at 01:22 PM
I think the biggest problem is for pedestrians. There needs to be a safe way to get from Narberth Playground to Wynnewood Shopping Center on foot. Perhaps just a 3-way stop sign instead of a light would accomplish this?
Jim Speer January 04, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Good points Ryan. The traffic through this intersection is overwhelmingly through-traffic on E Wynnewood Rd (ie, not entering or exiting Narberth). I would hate for that flow to get interrupted unnecessarily an regularly when there was no one waiting to turn in or come out of Narberth. Could a light there operate on a sensor? Also, the traffic exiting downtown Narberth on Haverford Ave should be taken into account, because a lot of cars want to emerge from Haverford Ave and turn left to go under the bridge. If the Wynnewood/Wynnewood intersection is going to be completely governed by a light, those cars waiting at the end Haverford may become shut out of a left turn altogether, unless that turn us also taken into account by the traffic study. Anyway: Aren't we supposed to be getting a temporary light at Wynnewood & Wynnewood , to coincide with the REAL bridge construction slated to begin in January 2014? That will give us all a sense of what a permanent light there would be like. Since (if I am correct) there will be a temporary light there in a year, I think the simplest and quickest thing to do would be to try to get the installation of that temporary light moved up to TODAY or ASAP.
Michael Alexander January 08, 2013 at 09:16 PM
If PennDOT allows us to install a temporary light as part of the bridge reconstruction process, then we will get 95% of the cost covered by the state and federal government. If we decide to put a light up there now (i.e. not part of the bridge reconstruction) we will be responsible for paying the whole cost.


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