Northeast Times

Somerton discusses potential increase in traffic

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If you ask Somer­ton res­id­ents about vehicle traffic in their neigh­bor­hood, they’ll say it’s already a big prob­lem.

At the May 10 meet­ing of the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation, res­id­ents learned that traffic might be get­ting a lot worse in the months to come.

A hous­ing pro­ject in neigh­bor­ing Ben­s­alem and a new phar­ma­ceut­ic­al dis­tri­bu­tion fa­cil­ity at the south­ern end of the com­munity will po­ten­tially bring hun­dreds of ad­di­tion­al cars and big rigs through Somer­ton every day.

The Teva Phar­ma­ceut­ic­als dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter on the former site of the Is­land Green golf course on Red Li­on Road is a “done deal,” SCA of­ficers said. Mean­while, the Ben­s­alem Town­ship Coun­cil on May 9 gave its go-ahead for the de­vel­op­ment of 175 town­houses on the north­ern bank of the Poquess­ing Creek.

“I don’t think the Ben­s­alem Town­ship Coun­cil took much in­to con­sid­er­a­tion ex­cept the de­veloper’s in­terests,” said Dan Lod­ise, chief of staff to state Rep. Brendan Boyle, whose 170th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict in­cludes Somer­ton and abuts the town­house pro­ject site.

The new houses are to be built by K. Hov­n­ani­an Homes in a 46-acre wooded area just north of and across the creek from Somer­ton’s Lon­don­town sec­tion. It will be just east of a CSX freight rail­road and in close prox­im­ity to the on­go­ing Ar­bors at Eagle Pointe de­vel­op­ment on the former By­berry Hos­pit­al site.

The Ben­s­alem pro­ject, which is to in­clude two new roads built over wet­lands, was twice re­jec­ted by the town­ship’s plan­ning com­mis­sion, but ad­op­ted by the coun­cil any­way, Lod­ise said. The coun­cil vote was three in fa­vor and two against, with both op­pos­ing votes cast by the two coun­cil mem­bers who are up for re-elec­tion this year.

Somer­ton res­id­ents fear that rus­tic and nar­row Tre­vose Road will be used as a primary out­let street for the new de­vel­op­ment, al­though the SCA board has con­firmed that there will not be any new spans of the Poquess­ing Creek lead­ing dir­ectly in­to the Lon­don­town area.

To make mat­ters worse, a smal­ler hous­ing pro­ject by an­oth­er de­veloper is un­der­way less than a half-mile away at the in­ter­sec­tion of Tre­vose and Somer­ton roads.

Mean­while, tract­or-trail­ers are the big con­cern of neigh­bors at the south­ern end of Somer­ton, near Red Li­on and Pine roads. SCA treas­urer Pat Can­t­well re­por­ted that Teva ex­ec­ut­ives have told city of­fi­cials and civic as­so­ci­ation board mem­bers that the new ware­house fa­cil­ity will see 200 in­bound and out­bound trucks each day at the start. And the traffic is ex­pec­ted to grow over time.

Among pub­lic of­fi­cials who have par­ti­cip­ated in a series of private meet­ings with com­pany ex­ec­ut­ives and neigh­bors, only a rep­res­ent­at­ive from the city’s De­part­ment of Streets voiced op­pos­i­tion to the pro­posed con­fig­ur­a­tion of the site, Can­t­well said.

“The city’s streets de­part­ment seems to be the only one who’s neg­at­ive about it. They’re go­ing to start con­struc­tion this sum­mer,” Can­t­well said. “The traffic is go­ing to be a night­mare.”

In ad­di­tion to the de­liv­ery trucks, the site will have about 250 em­ploy­ees ar­riv­ing and de­part­ing each day.

Loc­al and state gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing state Sen. Mike Stack, lured Teva to Somer­ton with $4.7 mil­lion in pub­lic fund­ing and tax cred­its. The 1.2 mil­lion-square-foot com­plex will in­clude two 85-foot-high stor­age build­ings and one 45-foot-high dis­tri­bu­tion build­ing.

The Is­land Green golf course was built about a dec­ade ago as a brown­field re­clam­a­tion pro­ject on the site of the former Budd Com­pany rail­road car man­u­fac­tur­ing plant.

• The next Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing will be on Tues­day, June 14, at 7:30 p.m., at Walk­er Lodge 306, 1290 Southamp­ton Road. 

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or bkenny@bsmphilly.com

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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