Newtown’s advisory traffic committee is recommending a reduction in speed on Sycamore Street, but the business community is pushing back.
During Monday’s work session meeting of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors, traffic committee member Tim Szwedo made the case to reduce the speed from 35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour on some sections of Sycamore Street.
According to Szwedo, the last time the speed limit was surveyed by police was in 2005, when improvements were made to the street, including sidewalks, on-street parking and lighting.
“Since then, businesses have come along and things have changed,” Szwedo said.
Szwedo said the traffic committee believes the corridor would benefit from a lower speed limit between the Goodnoe’s Corner shopping center and 7-Eleven.
“There are a lot of people who won’t walk around Sycamore Street because of the speed,” Szwedo said. “People are scared to cross.”
But Szwedo’s presentation didn’t sway Shawn Ward of the Sycamore Street Community Association, which represents businesses along the street.
Ward said the Sycamore Street business community is opposed to a speed limit reduction.
“We truly believe that a reduction of the speed limit will result in traffic going around town and not through it,” Ward said. “If the businesses are out of sight, they’re less likely to be patronized.”
Ward acknowledged pedestrian safety should be improved on Sycamore Street but said he didn’t believe the solution was lower vehicular speed. “It’s an enforcement issue. It’s the people that are driving over 35 that are causing the problems.”
Szwedo said the Sycamore Street Community Association’s position was in opposition to conventional thought. “Most business districts want lower speed limits,” he said, adding slower speeds improve safety and allow drivers to notice shops and restaurants.
The supervisors decided to pursue a few options to address the issue. Police Chief Rick Pasqualini was directed to explore the benefits of restricting right turns on red at the traffic signal on Durham Road and Sycamore Street. Plus, police will assess whether a reduction in speed from Linton Hill Road to Goodnoe’s Corner would aid the problem.
Judy Norkin, who is also on the advisory traffic committee, lives in Cliveden Estates, which is within walking distance to Sycamore Street.
“Over the years it has gotten so difficult and really unsafe (to walk into town). It really defeats the purpose of living close to town. It’s very frustrating,” she said.