Ron Beitler is is this week's featured blogger from the Strong Towns Network. Ron blogs from Lower Macungie, PA. He says it is a sprawling community of 30,000 people dealing with the typical "sprawly" problems of a community their size. Having grown up there, he's seen his hometown experience 40% growth in just over two decades. They are the 2nd fastest growing township in the state. You can visit his website at http://www.ronbeitler.com/

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A resident submitted a request to explore the speed limit on Willow Lane/East Texas Rd. a few months ago. Since Willow Ln otherwise known by Penndot as “State Rt. 3003″ is a state road even though local Commissioners agreed in theory to a speed limit reduction the request had to go through the Ultimate Bureaucracy (tm) of PENNDOT.

Now bear in mind this section of Willow Lane goes through the Village of East Texas. It’s a long time residential neighborhood. In some cases homes are 20 feet away from the roadway. It’s an area that’s been a residential community for almost a century. The area of study encompassed East Texas Rd. at Brookside through East Texas to just beyond the Willows Restaurant.

Fast forward. I was wondering what was up so I emailed Bruce our Township Manager for an update. I rec’d the following letter from Penndot that was sent to LMT.

Here is everything wrong with Penndot in a nutshell.

Follow me here. Residents submitted a petition signed by nearly the entire neighborhood requesting a speed limit reduction since they felt the speed didn’t match up with the residential character of the Village of East Texas. The township supported the request. In fact they even identify East Texas as a traditional town center area. In other words all interested parties who actually understand the context of the road agree.

But based on one sized fits all engineering guidelines, Penndot’s answer is….. wait for it. . .

To actually increase the design speed of the road!!!

Let that sink in. This my friends is insanity. Penndot’s answer is increasing design speed by widening the street, flattening the street, removing all trees so cars can drive faster,THEN posting a speed limit so they slow down?

Penndot completely ignores the context and character of the roadway with it’s one sized fits all application of the 85th percentile speed. It applies standards blindly as if every road was a connector street.


85% speed followup post.

This letter reflects everything parodied in this wildly popular strongtowns.org youtube video entitled “Conversation with an Engineer”. Everything wrong with the “Ultimate Bureaucracy” ™ of Penndot. If you have never seen this take a moment and watch it. I can’t wait til we come up with a community serving plan for Hamilton Blvd. and Penndot just completely torpedoes it. Can’t wait….

 

If you have an essay, a blog or a thought you'd like to share in this space, please enter our weekly contest over at the Strong Towns Network. Simply post your material there to share it with a growing online community of people working to build strong towns around the world. Once a week, we take the hottest stuff and share it here on the Strong Towns Blog. Many thanks to Ron Beltier for this week's contribution to the conversation.