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$60 million road safety plan gets Upper Macungie supervisors' approval

UMT complete streets graphic.jpg
Upper Macungie Township
The corridors for road improvements in Upper Macungie's Vision Zero Action Plan.

UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. — Upper Macungie Township has a new plan that aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities.

The township Board of Supervisors voted last week to accept the final draft of its Vision Zero Action Plan, a road safety improvement plan.

  • Upper Macungie supervisors adopted its Vision Zero Action Plan, which has the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities in the township
  • The 15-year plan has an estimated cost of $60 million, but township officials said that likely will be reduced
  • In other news, supervisors approved funds for a new K-9 officer for the police department

The plan was guided by the Vision Zero Network, a national collaborative campaign to help communities reach the goal of zero traffic fatalities.

Peter Simone of Simone-Collins Landscape Architecture presented the plan at the supervisors' meeting Thursday.

He said the 15-year plan will cost about $60 million, with opportunities for grants to reduce the cost to the township.

“This is a big program," Simone said. "This is a generational project.”

Simone said the project will be "a living document" that should be updated and reviewed annually.

What’s in the plan?

Simone said the plan aims not only to make streets safer but also to make them accessible to all types of transportation, including walking, biking and riding buses.

The plan identifies six corridors that will be the focus of the improvements. The corridors are where the most car crashes occur, according to the township and state Transportation Department data.

Potential tools the township can use to improve road safety include flashing beacons at crosswalks, pedestrian refuge islands, bicycle lanes, multi-use trails and pedestrian bridges.

The plan will be implemented over 15 years and will cost an estimated total of $60 million. Broken down, the plan carries an annual cost of $160 for each of Upper Macungie's 25,000 residents, Simone said.

"It's not a lot of money for safety," Simone said.

Resident Jim Caffrey said he was concerned about the cost of the plan.

"To throw a little cold water on it, what sticks in my head is $60 million. I mean, really?" Caffrey said.

Ghai said the plan is long-term, not just for one year. He also said the township can pursue grants to cover costs.

“I guess ultimately the question is, what’s a human life worth?” Ghai said.

Township Manager Robert Ibach Jr. said the public works department can do some of the work, which will further reduce the cost.

“Between staff and grants, that number will be significantly lower,” Ibach said.

Assistant Township Manager Kalman Sostarecz said the final draft of the Vision Zero Action Plan soon will be posted on the township website after it goes through final minor edits.

Other business

Also Thursday, township supervisors unanimously approved budgeting no more than $16,500 for a new K-9 officer, which passed unanimously.

K-9 officer Bico retired last June. He was a German shepherd who served on the force for eight years with Sgt. Matthew Gardner in many drug busts. Bico died in November of last year.

Gardner will train with the new dog this year, Police Chief Michael Sitoski said

Supervisors also authorized the appointments of two new township employees: patrol officer David Fritsche and patrol officer recruit Courtney Funk.