Lower Makefield is moving forward with its plans to construct a pair of mini-roundabouts as a temporary fix to the Sandy Run Road detour, which has frustrated the community and officials over the last four years.
Supervisors voted unanimously to seek requests for proposals from engineering firms to develop preliminary design standards for the concept at the February 4 meeting
The goal, said Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, is to have construction of the project completed in the fall and Sandy Run reopened by the end of the year.
The issue is, he said, is ensuring the safety of the community using the roadway and getting the work completed where site lines are improved and speeds are “calmed” he said.
Last year, the township’s traffic engineer, Joseph Fiocco proposed a project which would reopen Sandy Run Road to right turns in and right turns out the cross section of Sandy Run and Edgewood Roads.
Additionally, officials said two mini-roundabouts would be built – one at Schuyler Drive and one at Mill Road – allowing Sandy Run traffic to double back without having to take a two mile detour or make an illegal u-turns.
Fiocco estimated the cost of engineering and construction of the roundabouts and barriers to be about $540,000.
The cost, officials say is significantly cheaper than a previous engineering plan that called for shifting the Sandy Run Road intersection to the west.
In addition to allowing Sandy Run Road traffic to double back, Fiocco said the roundabouts hopefully will act as a traffic calming measure and slow traffic down to 25 mph – the minimum speed needed to allow traffic to safely make left turns in and out of Sandy Run Road at Edgewood.
“If we get that speed down to 25 we could consider this a permanent solution,” said Fiocco.
“The interim measure of right in and right out does not exclude a more permanent solution. We either have to solve the site distance issue or the speed issue,” he said.
“If we are able to pinch speeds down hitting 25 mph, a more comprehensive opening of the road becomes possible,” said Ferguson on Wednesday. “If we are not able to get speeds down to the satisfaction of the traffic engineer it would require fixing the sight distance issue, which is a much bigger dollar amount,” he said.
Ferguson said the guesstimate of cost on that potential solution would be upwards of 4 to 8 million dollars.
“But just because we do this doesn’t mean we can’t do that,” said Ferguson. “In the interim, we don’t have the money to fix the sight distance issue so the traffic engineer’s approach is to at least provided a limited opening, but to make the effort to get that speed down. The hope is that it works.”