DALLAS TWP. -- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to reconfigure an intersection and sharp curve near the Dallas School District the agency calls hazardous.
PennDOT said township residents appear to support the project, which will remove an S-curve on Upper Demunds Road and reroute the road to intersect with Route 309 north of the township municipal building and the Country Club shopping center.
But one Upper Demunds Road family that stands to lose most of its front yard in the reconfiguration is circulating a petition asking the state to reconsider.
PennDOT has been planning the reconfiguration for five years, and last week hosted a public meeting to solicit comments from township residents about its plan. The intersection was first identified as an area of concern by a 2005 transportation study, according to the department.
Currently, Upper Demunds Road intersects with Hildebrandt Road – which leads to the Dallas School District campus – about 50 feet before the existing traffic light at Route 309, and the intersection frequently becomes congested around the start and the end of school days.
According to transportation department statistics, there have been 30 accidents between the S-curve and the intersection in the last five years, resulting in 17 injuries and one fatality.
Department spokesman James May said the project is still in the pre-design stages, and PennDOT plans to solicit sealed bids for the construction contract in 2014, and begin work in 2015.
He said the project will be bid together with the replacement of a nearby intersection in Dallas Borough with a traffic circle, with the stipulation that construction with potential to cause delays not occur on the two projects simultaneously.
The public by-and-large has been very supportive, May said. Most people understand this is a real necessity for the area.
Dallas School District Superintendent Frank Galicki said he supports the project, saying the separation of Hildebrandt Road and Upper Demunds Road would alleviate congestion and that adding a second light would slow traffic on 309, making it easier to exit from Hildebrandt Road.
Dallas Township Supervisor Liz Martin said supervisors had concerns about an earlier plan proposed by PennDOT that would have placed traffic signals at the intersections of 309 with Upper Demunds Road and Hildebrandt Road closer together and placed a traffic light at the bottom of a hill, creating an accident risk.
She said the plan PennDOT now prefers addresses those concerns.
Martin said the concern of the supervisors has always been the safety of the people, but added that she appreciates the position of residents who could lose property in the project.
It's a huge concern that the residents of Upper Demunds (Road) are put out as little as possible, Martin said.
Brian and Kelly Bryk of 120 Upper Demunds Road oppose the move, and Brian Bryk is circulating a petition challenging PennDOT's plan among other Upper Demunds Road residents. Kelly Bryk said he has collected about 15 signatures so far.
Kelly Bryk said the proposed changes will cut her front yard in half, moving the street about 100 feet closer to the house. The Bryks' driveway also will have to be rerouted in front of their home, removing more of their yard.
In place of a wooded area that currently screens their home from the roadway and prevents their children's toys and balls from rolling into the street, the Bryks will have a 300-by-100-foot retention pond.
Though it will be surrounded by a fence, Bryk said she fears one of her four children, ages 4 months to 6 years old, could make their way into the basin.
Bryk said they have had preliminary meetings with PennDOT about the proposal but have not received an offer for their property.
We don't want money, Bryk said. We just want to be left alone and raise our kids on the property that we thought we had.