HomeHopewell Valley NewsHopewell NewsHopewell Township will continue discussions for potential sidewalks on East Welling Avenue

Hopewell Township will continue discussions for potential sidewalks on East Welling Avenue

Hopewell Township Committee members will continue to discuss sidewalk options for its portion of East Welling Avenue.

The township’s engineering consultant firm Van Cleef Engineering Associates LLC, Hillsborough, presented three options of concept plan proposals during the work session meeting on July 11.

“These are conceptual and not fully engineered. Things like grading and drainage have not been addressed yet. This is just a look at possible locations that sidewalks could be placed along East Welling,” Township Engineer Herbert Seeburger said.

He noted that Hopewell Township’s portion of East Welling is about 700 feet in length to East Curlis Avenue, both sides of the roadway are Hopewell Township, and there is creek right before the roadway heads to Curlis Avenue.

Sidewalk Options

The first option presented was a conceptual plan to install a single sidewalk on what Seeburger called “the east side” of East Welling Ave.

Coming out of Pennington Borough the roadway narrows to 18-feet wide, which is “really tight for a road to have sidewalks on,” Seeburger said.

“We are proposing to put curbing along the east side of the road and widen the roadway as it approaches Curlis Avenue, so we can maintain at least a 12-foot travel lane for vehicles,” he said. “And install a sidewalk along that side of the road connecting up at Curlis Avenue with a crosswalk across to the existing sidewalk that is there.”

For this option, the construction cost is about $259,000 and with the permitting and design would be $290,000, according to Seeburger.

The second option is a sidewalk on the west side of the road only, which was described as the inner side of the curve.

“This one is little more problematic as we cross the culvert. We would have to extend that culvert a little bit there,” Seeburger said.

Because of the culvert, the project cost is $268,000 for just construction and total project cost increases to $302,000.

“On the construction side and engineering side, it is an additional permit we have to get,” he said.

Seeburger said he believes that each option of either east or west sidewalks are both beneficial.

“As long as we put the curb in, I believe [the plans] are equally safe,” he said.

The third concept plan option is putting curbing and sidewalks in on both sides of the road. This option for the project would be $435,000 for just construction. The total project cost is $505,000.

Township officials said residents are responsible for maintaining and shoveling the sidewalks, according to the township’s ordinance.

Key issue

Seeburger said key issues are the narrowness of the roadway at the Curlis Avenue end. He said all the options need to include widening the road and putting the curb in.

“The reason we want to put curbing [in] is we need a vertical barrier. When you put sidewalk along the road you have to have that vertical separation there to keep vehicles from accidentally coming onto the sidewalks,” Seeburger said. “As soon as you put curb in, that means you have to put some drainage in to collect the water along the curb line.”

Removal of trees

According to the presentation, both sides of East Welling have trees that are going to be right in the way of the sidewalk options. Those trees would have to be taken down, officials said.

“The trees will not survive if the root structure is disturbed and when we actually do the design work we can have to excavate or raise the grade in order to get the sidewalks in and keep them ADA compliant,” Seeburger said.

“That could cut into the root structures. Putting curbing close to a large tree is also going to cut into the root structure and chances of survivability are very low when you do those types of things.”

Seeburger further said the typical problem that occurs when putting sidewalk in next to a big tree is that within three years the sidewalk is a mountain, and it is cracked.

“There are a couple trees in excess of 40-inches in size that would have to come down and there are about five or six trees as a rough number on both sides of the street,” he said.

Township officials noted the planting of trees was accounted for in replacement of any removed trees.

Township Administrator George Snyder also said the Hopewell Township Police Department had conducted a traffic study in 2021. A 10-day study, according to the study, the majority of motorists traveled within the speed limit, he said.

Resident reactions

Frank Newport, of East Welling, said it seems to him three properties on the north side of the street would not be affected by sidewalk in terms of its usage in trying to get to Toll Gate Grammar School.

He noted one of the 40-inch large trees mentioned at the meeting is on the east side of his property.

“I would submit to the Township Committee to consider that if that tree had to be removed, I think it would be very serious negatively as far as shade trees, ambience, and environment. I would say option four for the [committee] to consider would be no sidewalks.”

Susan Perris, East Welling, said the area the sidewalks are being considered would cross a creek and, in the fall, it was completely submerged underwater.

“Recently, Pennington took down four trees between 80 to 100 feet tall right next to Hopewell. A few weeks later, right at that site many more mature trees have been removed down by the creek,” she said.

“We feel that all those trees coming down have the possibility of contributing to the worsening the flooding situation. We are concerned that if [put in] sidewalks, there is a way to limit the number of trees coming down to limit the stormwater flooding. That is what we are hoping.”

Shannon Erwin, resident of East Welling Avenue, said she has children that go to Toll Gate Grammar School, noting they would “love to have a sidewalk.”

“There are people who walk everyday down the street and the thing about the street narrowing, it narrows at the curve too, where the creek is, which is one of the most dangerous spots,” she said. “I don’t think a mid-block crosswalk would be good there because that is where the cars come.”

Suzanne Trautwein, East Welling, said she knows that there have been plenty of people, who have had success in raising their children without the area feeling like a safety issue.

“But, it is certainly a different time with the amount of traffic going through and delivery services and landscaping and of course distracted driving. It has been pretty scary,” she said. “I just want to make sure we are not just ‘think about the children,’ because I do know this a cut through for many residents in the borough and township. Just making it safer is a goal for all of us.”

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