Housing, commercial, and industrial growth in Milford and Richland townships has ramped up over the past decade and brought with it more cars, more trucks and overall, more traffic.
From road widening to roundabouts, turning lanes, more travel lanes and synchronized traffic signals, travel was the hot topic at a recent Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce transportation forum.
The event was held at The Proper Brewing Company in Quakertown.
Several new developments underway will need road improvements and traffic signals that work in tandem to manage travel peaks and keep traffic moving safely.
“With new construction we keep it simple,” said Jeff Vey, Milford Township manager.
The St. Luke’s University Health Network’s new Quakertown Hospital construction project brings road improvements and turning lanes to Route 663 and Portzer Road.
Dennis Pfleiger, St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus president, said the new hospital reflected St. Luke’s continuing commitment to the community. Private rooms and comfortable accommodations for families, including with sleeper sofas in patient rooms, are part of its patient first approach.
“An integrated lobby so people don’t get lost” aims to soften the entrance transition experience. Fireplaces and comfortable surroundings create a more relaxed environment to help visitors and patients feel more at ease, he explained.
“We’re excited about this new building,” Pfleiger said.
Future phases of Milford Village, a massive mixed-use residential/retail/and assisted living development will trigger more road improvements, and the construction of a new Mill Hill Road is currently underway. Milford Village is fronted along Route 663.
“Over the last 18 years, we have been putting together a [master] plan,” said Del Markward, co- developer of Milford Village.
On the books for decades, the Route 663 road widening project began in earnest as these projects driving new turning lanes and synchronized traffic signals.
“You’ll see Route 663 fully improved,” once the roughly 261-acre Milford Village project is completed, Markward said.
Vey said completing Route 663 “in small digestible bites” was the best way to ensure the heavily traveled east/west artery would receive the improvements it needed.
Efforts to preserve earlier road improvement investments to Route 663, as well as the long-awaited relocation of Mill Hill Road were priorities.
And improvements to the Quakertown Interchange of Route 476 – the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension are also in development.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation traffic engineers and township officials are looking at how to improve snarls at New Road, and at traffic lights on Route 663 toward Wawa are also being explored with.
“The idea is to get [the trucks] off the arterial highway,” Vey said.
In Richland Township a second roundabout at Old Bethlehem Pike and Tollgate Road is under construction about a half mile from the existing one at Station Avenue and Old Bethlehem Pike – again with the intention to keep traffic moving.
Currently in development a third roundabout is proposed for the intersection of Portzer Road and Old Bethlehem Pike. It is a joint project with Milford Township.
Amy Kaminski, transportation engineering department manager at Gilmore & Associates in Doylestown said 11 traffic signals on Route 309 would have fiber optic upgrades for smoother operations. They’d also be able to report data back to the Region 6 office hub.
Six other area traffic signals, including a new signal at East Pumping Station and California Road, would be on a “closed loop system” to better respond to traffic flows.
Fiber optic signals will be able to synchronize traffic stops and starts during peak travel times. Signals in Quakertown, Milford and Richland will be able to report problems electronically to the PennDOT Region 6 offices in King of Prussia.
Once logged in Region 6 adjustments to signals would be made electronically, eliminating the need for delays to send staff to the site to correct the problem, PennDOT officials said.
Empowering youngsters is the juice PPL Foundation generates to help build thriving communities.
The community and philanthropic arm of PPL Corporation in Allentown provides grant money to schools and non-profit organizations across Bucks County and beyond to support 21st century science, engineering, technology and math programs (STEM).
“They [PPL] are engaged and understand the need to [support] young people,” said Marissa Christie, president and CEO of United Way of Bucks County.
The programs and funding are aimed at providing the tools to meet challenges and kindle interest in current and emerging careers among the youngest learners.
“We support education as a way of building a strong foundation for the success of today’s students,” said PPL Electric Utilities Regional Affairs Director for the Southeastern Region Carol Obando-Derstine.
Obando-Derstine said PPL Foundation provides grants to various community programs with a particular emphasis on STEM learning and innovation.
From summer literacy programs to the unveiling of Deibler Elementary School’s “Fab Lab Incubator” classroom in Pennridge School District. A $1,000 PPL Foundation Empowering Educators Grant contributed to the Fab Lab Incubator funding.
During the year, PPL Foundation gave $25,000 in $1,000 grants across several programs to help support STEM classroom learning.
And while STEM programs are familiar to most the next generation of STEM - called iSTEAMM, is trailblazing those core subjects while adding arts and manufacturing to the mix.
“The iSTEAMM [program] is the next level of STEM, by incorporating these elements, the arts and manufacturing, we see them as economic drivers,” Christie said.
Through partnerships with non-profit organizations like United Way of Bucks County in Fairless Hills, preschool aged children through primary and secondary grades benefit from PPL’s commitment to the communities it serves.
Christie said adding art elements including design and creative thinking, as well as high tech manufacturing to core STEM curricula, even broader educational innovation is available to young learners.
“Applying creativity and design thinking with high tech manufacturing…is good for the entire community,” she said.
PPL Electric Utilities also helps fund local nonprofits through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) program. By contributing to educational improvement organizations and Pre-K organizations, PPL continues to help children succeed.
EITC donations are open to any business with more than $10,000 in state income tax liability, Christie said.
Administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, EITC offers business tax credits that may be applied against the tax liability for the year in which the contribution was made.
PPL Electric Utilities EITC contributions directly support youngsters in Upper Bucks, according to Christie.
“Research shows about 90 percent of the [human] brain is developed by the age of five. Partial scholarships help parents afford high quality programs and benefit children,” Christie explained.
EITC Tax Credits help offset preschool programs, which Christie said can cost up to $12,000 per year.
Learn something new at the UBCC.
In September PPL will host a “Partnering with Energy Efficiency Program” Lunch and Learn program at UBCC’s offices located at 21 N. Main Street in Quakertown.
Free admission to Lunch and Learn programs for members is one of the many benefits of being a valued UBCC member.
The informational “Partnering with Energy Efficiency Program” will offer no cost tips businesses can use to be more aware of energy consumption patterns, as well as the process to access available energy rebates.
Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
An economic development agency for Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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