group votes against Woodhaven plan
Times Staff Writer
Mary Jane Hazell
knew that members of the Somerton Civic Association wouldnt like the Pennsylvania
Department of Transportations latest proposal for extending Woodhaven Road.
the wake of a series of public meetings last month where neighbors were encouraged
to offer their views on the project, Hazell said that the plan would only hurt
local residents and businesses.
Last week, SCA members made their opposition
official as they voted unanimously against PennDOTs so-called Parkway Concept,
taking the cue from their organizations president as well as a local business
In addition to voting against the latest plan, residents signed a petition
demanding that PennDOT keep intact the existing Byberry Road bridge that spans
the CSX railroad just east of Worthington Road with its 3-ton weight limit. The
weight restriction essentially prevents most large trucks from crossing into predominately
residential areas of the neighborhood to the west.
Both Hazell and Randy Liebowitz
who owns the Northeast Car Connection, Blatt Service and Tire Company and
Enterprise Car Sales spoke against the new plan during the civic meeting.
believe that the state and PennDOT have to listen to us," said Liebowitz,
who also identified himself as an SCA member and financial contributor.
the proposal, the state agency would build a parkway-style road westward from
the existing terminus of the Woodhaven Expressway (state Route 63). The new road
would essentially parallel Byberry Road and end in a new intersection at Bustleton
Avenue, just north of the Leo Mall. The price tag has been estimated at $30 million.
businesses are among dozens on Byberry Road between the bridge and Roosevelt Boulevard.
For years, many of those businesses have benefited from heavy vehicle traffic
largely caused by Woodhaven Road. Under PennDOTs new plan, most of that
traffic would be re-routed, as Byberry Road would end in cul-de-sacs on both sides
of the railroad.
Echoing criticisms also expressed by Hazell and other community
leaders, Liebowitz said that the new plan, if approved, would hurt not only businesses,
but local residents, too.
He argued that many westbound motorists would avoid
using the Woodhaven Parkway and instead get off the expressway at Roosevelt Boulevard
to pick up local streets like Southampton Road. Yet other motorists would use
the new parkway only as far as Worthington Road, Liebowitz argued, then would
end up back on Byberry Road to continue westward.
Meanwhile, trucks would have
free access to the parkway as the new bridge would not have a weight restriction.
do not want trucks in our neighborhood," Liebowitz said.
owner accused project officials of withholding from the community their intent
to connect the Byberry West Industrial Park directly to the new Woodhaven Road
via Hornig Road. In recent weeks, those project officials have categorically denied
the alleged Hornig Road connection.
Specifically, Liebowitzs petition
makes the following demands of PennDOT:
That the agency discontinue
further discussions involving the "Parkway" concept.
it not replace the existing Byberry Road bridge over the CSX railroad.
That it maintain the 3-ton weight restriction on the bridge.
restrict all truck traffic from using the bridge to access the "Somerton
area" to the west.
That it dismiss the plan to create cul-de-sacs
on Byberry Road.
Several years ago, the Somerton Civic Association endorsed
a prior PennDOT proposal to build a limited access road connecting the existing
expressway with Philmont Avenue near the Montgomery County border. Under that
plan, Byberry Road would have remained a continuous city street. But residents
of the Westwood section of Somerton and suburban communities opposed the plan.
PennDOT withdrew the plan citing a state budget crunch.
Now, project officials
are preparing a "supplemental draft environmental impact study" for
the latest version of the project. Once the study is complete, PennDOT will schedule
a formal public hearing next year.
"All theyre really doing is wasting
taxpayers money on a project that nobody wants," Liebowitz said.
William Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org@phillynews.com