Crosswalk safety raised for key Chestnut Hill intersection

The intersection of Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike is described as one of the more dangerous intersections for pedestrians trying to cross the street.

At last night’s Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Traffic, Transportation and Parking Committee (TTP) the issues of poor design and deteriorating crosswalk markings were raised.

The chair of the committee, Tom Hemphill said some residents’ think the corner of Germantown Ave and Bethlehem Pike can be tough for pedestrians to cross at.

The traffic light begins to change while the pedestrian walk clock continues to count down, leaving people to frantically hurry across the busy intersection.

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“Part of the problem is the snow build up,” said Mike Chomentowski, citing that the snow has created an obstacle for pedestrians.

Chomentowski described the “bump-out” that was built to reduce the gap between the sidewalks on either side of Bethlehem Pike. The “bump-out” is an extension of the sidewalk into Bethlehem Pike and was built to tighten the intersection, giving pedestrians a shorter distance which to cross.

Germantown Ave. has been another troublesome road for pedestrian crossing, with cars racing down the busy avenue and crosswalks losing some visibility at night. There are signs at several crosswalks asking drivers to slow down and stop for pedestrians attempting to cross. Their effectiveness seems to be limited by their physical condition.

“The ones that are up look like they have been hit by cars,” said Chomentowski.

He then suggested that the group seek a grant to purchase new signs for Germantown Avenue.

Hemphill suggested an idea from a resident a few months ago that flags be available at crosswalks for pedestrians to carry as they cross the street. Hemphill thought the idea warranted some merit but questioned its ultimate effectiveness.

Chomentowski added that speed is a major issue on Germantown Avenue and suggested that the group look into building a traffic-slowing apparatus, such as a speed bump, on Mermaid Lane near the entrance of Chestnut Hill. Susan Hemphill shook her head in defeat and related that prior attempts to reach out to city officials regarding speed bump placement have yielded no cooperation to date.

“Part of the challenge is finding the person who is responsible (for parking and traffic issues),” said Susan Hemphill.

Tom Hemphill also raised his concern that the pedestrian crosswalks themselves are deteriorating. Rather than being painted, the stripes of the crosswalks are applied to the concrete using a thermal application similar to ironing a patch to a shirt. Hemphill said that the thermal applications often don’t take to the concrete, coming loose and folding over.

“They basically don’t work,” Hemphill said, “they’re unsightly and a little slick (when wet).”

Social Issues

Toward the end of the meeting, a concerned citizen (who requested anonymity) spoke of parking and nuisance issues from the Bocce Club, located on the corner of Devon St. and East Hartwell Lane. According to him, patrons sometimes park in front of the fire hydrant and park illegally in an adjacent lot. He also stated that members also drive erratically through an alley behind the social club and that the city says since it’s a private alley it has no jurisdiction.

“It’s bad enough that I cannot park anywhere near my house,” the concerned resident said, stressing that he was not complaining but merely seeking advice.

Tom Hemphill thanked the resident and said that the group would look into the problem.

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