Proposed Hartwell Lane traffic reversal plan raises many questions for nearby residents

In the week since Bowman Properties released the first detailed look at a redevelopment of 8200 Germantown Ave., neighbors have begun dissecting its various parts — including a proposal to change the flow of traffic on West Hartwell Lane and install a traffic light.

Currently, traffic on West Hartwell flows one way away from Germantown Avenue. Plans for a future Fresh Market grocery store, condos and retail space include asking the city to reverse the direction on Hartwell, taking traffic out of an 85-space parking lot to a new traffic signal at Germantown Avenue.

Bowman representatives provided a first look at their plan at last week’s meeting of the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s development review committee. While they declined to discuss it in more detail this week, neighbors are asking questions.

Sara Varney, who lives on West Abington Avenue, said she’s not opposed to the development in general but wonders whether it will mean more traffic on narrow surrounding streets. Changing Hartwell’s direction would create a four-block stretch (W. Gravers Lane, W. Southampton Ave, W. Hartwell Lane, & W. Abington Ave.) where traffic goes one way toward Germantown Avenue.

At last week’s meeting, architect Stanley Runyan said preliminary traffic estimates show about 40 cars per hour travel Hartwell Lane at peak morning rush hour, and about 60 per hour use that street during the evening rush. A more detailed traffic study by Pennoni and Associates will be presented to the CHCA’s Design Review Committee next month.

Varney posted her concern on the neighborhood’s message board on Philadelphia Speaks, where some wondered if changing Hartwell would necessitate reversing another street. Seth Shapiro, the project manager, declined to discuss the project this week, saying Bowman preferred to wait until the next DRC meeting on May 17.

Robby Rankin, who lives on East Hartwell, said he’s glad to see a proposal to make use of the vacant site, but wonders whether the on-site parking will be enough to accommodate shoppers and employees. Already, he said, many on-street parking spots are taken by workers at businesses along Germantown Avenue, who find a spot and stay for hours.

“Where are the employees going to park?” he said. “My sense is that it’s gonna be in front of my house.”

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