Newtown Township makes safety improvements along Sycamore Street following fatal accident

·4 min read

Newtown Township Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve several safety measures along busily traveled Sycamore Street, the site of a fatal pedestrian accident last month.

Township crews got right to work on one of the suggestions. They were on the street Thursday painting white stripes across brick crosswalks to make them more visible to drivers.

Newtown Township Public Works employees inspect new white stripes painted on the brick crosswalks along North Sycamore Street at the intersection with Silo Drive, where a pedestrian was killed while walking across a crosswalk last month. The stripes are to better alert drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks, and are one of the measures the township is undertaking to improve safety on the busy street.
Newtown Township Public Works employees inspect new white stripes painted on the brick crosswalks along North Sycamore Street at the intersection with Silo Drive, where a pedestrian was killed while walking across a crosswalk last month. The stripes are to better alert drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks, and are one of the measures the township is undertaking to improve safety on the busy street.

The supervisors want the township to quickly work to improve lighting on the street by changing the existing street lights to higher powered bulbs and to paint "piano stripes" of white paint across the brick crosswalks to make them more visible to motorists.

They also want the township to evaluate its existing signage and to cut back on vegetation and possibly change on-street parking to improve the sight line for motorists and pedestrians crossing the street.

Newtown Township Public Works personnel direct traffic around recently painted crosswalks at the intersection of North Sycamore Street and Silo Drive in the township. The brick crosswalks were stripped to make them more visible to motorists.
Newtown Township Public Works personnel direct traffic around recently painted crosswalks at the intersection of North Sycamore Street and Silo Drive in the township. The brick crosswalks were stripped to make them more visible to motorists.

Other possible safety enhancements listed by Derrick Kennedy, township engineer, will require evaluation by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and would take longer to implement.

These include reducing the speed limit on Sycamore to 25 miles per hour from the 35 miles per hour currently allowed, installing a traffic signal at the intersection of Sycamore and the private Silo Drive, and adding traffic-calming measures that could include speed bumps.

Traffic passes the intersection of North Sycamore Street and Silo Drive in Newtown Township Wednesday where a man was killed while using a crosswalk on the night of Dec. 22. Business owners would like to see more safety traffic measures  along the busy street where several accidents involving pedestrians have occurred.
Traffic passes the intersection of North Sycamore Street and Silo Drive in Newtown Township Wednesday where a man was killed while using a crosswalk on the night of Dec. 22. Business owners would like to see more safety traffic measures along the busy street where several accidents involving pedestrians have occurred.

More: Sycamore Street is the place to be in Newtown. But is the road safe for visitors to the business district?

On Dec. 22, pedestrian Scott Spitznas of Medford Lakes, New Jersey, was killed when he was struck by a northbound vehicle while crossing Sycamore at Silo Drive.

It was one of several pedestrian accidents in a little more than two and a half years, Supervisor John Mack stated in an earlier petition to have safety measures installed on the street. Sycamore borders Newtown Borough's business district and feeds into three shopping centers served by Silo Drive.

More: Pedestrian killed attempting to cross N. Sycamore St. in Newtown Township

Mack asked that some of the measures should be undertaken "immediately — a lot that has to do with visibility." He said the street is dark at night and that painting stripes across the bricks would help.

Money, he said, wasn't an issue because the township could use funds provided by the federal American Rescue Plan to improve safety in the township.

"I agree we have to move with a lot of speed," said board member Elen Snyder. "It's a matter of public safety."

Supervisor Kyle Davis, who joined the meeting virtually said, "I think the items we can move ASAP on, we should."

Board member Phillip Calabro thanked Bob Lutz, owner-operator of the Green Parrot restaurant, for contributing $7,500 he had raised to help with the safety initiatives. Spitznas was visiting the Green Parrot with a couple of friends shortly before he was killed.

Township Manager Micah Lewis said following the meeting that he would talk to the public works department about the safety measures that could be started right away.

When a resident asked for Kennedy's preliminary report to be made public, township Solicitor David Sander said that the report was not finalized and therefore did not have to be made public at this time, according to state law.

In another development, the board approved sending to PennDOT a synopsis of comments at a township Planning Commission meeting held to inform the public about the proposed Highway Occupancy Permit being sought for the Arcadia housing development planned next to the Newtown Bypass at Buck Road.

More: Sixty homes with $700K price tag are coming to Newtown Township. Here's the latest on the plan

According to the synopsis, PennDOT rejected all access to the development except for a U-turn plan at Mill Pond Road as the other options were not safe, but planners also had concerns about this proposal.

"Planning commission members had a great many concerns about safety in all directions, especially at peak AM and PM hours when traffic tends to back up in all directions," Planning Commission Chairwoman Peggy Driscoll told the supervisors.

She said that PennDOT favored a new access through open space directly to Mill Pond Road but this had already been prohibited by a settlement agreement about the development with neighboring communities.

Two residents who attended the planners meeting expressed concerns about safety and asked if the Mill Pond option might be renegotiated.

To contact Peg Quann, email mquann@couriertimes.com.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Newtown Township starts making safety improvements along Sycamoare St.

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