Getting the green light

State grants to improve traffic safety in Bristol

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Getting stuck in traffic is never fun. Travel times are increased, gas is wasted and blood pressure rises. Many intersections in Bristol Township have technology that is more than 30 years old and not in compliance with modern PennDOT standards, making things even worse. But commutes are about to get much better. State Reps. John Galloway and Tina Davis recently announced three Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grants that will be used to improve area traffic signals.

The intersections that will receive upgrades are State Road and Cedar Avenue ($252,184), Radcliffe Street and Randall Avenue ($191,255), and Mill Creek Road and Haines Road ($226,194). In addition, the township will upgrade Oxford Valley Road/Bath Road and Lakeland Road, and Oxford Valley Road/Levittown Parkway and New Falls Road. All of these projects are set to be completed in 2017.

Street talk: Three Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grants will be used to improve area traffic signals in Bristol Borough, including State Road and Cedar Avenue, Radcliffe Street and Randall Avenue, and Mill Creek Road and Haines Road. SAMANTHA BAMBINO / TIMES PHOTO

Thanks to the grant money, each location will receive various modern upgrades. Traffic signal timing measures will be installed to increase road safety and reduce collisions; Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk ramps, pedestrian push buttons and dedicated hand/man pedestrian signals with countdown timers will bring the intersections in compliance with current accessibility standards; and adaptive traffic signal control will be installed, which will also reduce the likelihood of crashes.

“It is important that our transportation infrastructure provides the best and safest way for people to travel throughout Bristol Township,” said Township Deputy Manager Scott Swichar, who oversees the traffic signal modernization program for the township.

According to Swichar, some expected measurable outcomes of these upgrades are reduced traffic delays by 15 to 40 percent, reduced travel time up to 25 percent, reduced stops by 10 to 40 percent, reduced fuel consumption up to 10 percent and reduced harmful emissions up to 22 percent, resulting in cleaner air.

The grants for the improvements come from PennDOT’s Green Light-Go Program, which provides state funds for the operation and maintenance of traffic signals along critical and designated corridors on state highways.

“When we talk about state dollars at work, these are the types of projects we like to see,” Galloway said. “Well-maintained infrastructure is an economic multiplier and increased safety at intersections cuts down on crashes, keeping families safe and driving down insurance costs.”

Bristol Township would never have been considered for these grants 10 years ago, according to Swichar. But over the past few years, PennDOT began to recognize the significant investment the township was making to upgrade traffic signals and create the most aggressive infrastructure improvement program in Bucks County.

The modernization of three intersections was completed in 2015, including Bristol Emilie Road and Green Lane, Mill Creek Parkway and Green Lane, and Mill Creek Parkway and Oxford Valley Road. The township also paved 116.2 of the 177 miles of the area’s highways over a five-year period.

“PennDOT recognizes that we take traffic safety very seriously and are moving forward,” Swichar said.

The Green Light-Go Program requires the county or municipality to provide a 20-percent match, which was decreased from 50 percent with the passing of Act 101 of 2016, which Davis and Galloway supported. The decrease allows the township to direct these additional resources to even more projects, such as public safety and police.

The grant process was highly competitive, and only 94 municipalities across the state were awarded grants. In Bucks County, only six traffic signal improvement projects were awarded, and Bristol Township received three of them.

“By awarding this grant, PennDOT recognizes all the work the township is doing to upgrade our infrastructure and improve traffic safety and mobility throughout Bristol Township,” said Township Council President Craig Bowen. “This grant will contribute much-needed improvements and modernizations to our community, and is another positive step in the right direction for Bristol Township.” ••