After more than an hour of discussion last night, the Lowell Township Planning Commission gave its blessing to add a center lane to a portion of Alden Nash Ave. The road improvements, which include acceleration and deceleration lanes, will be paid for by John and Colleen Timpson, owners of the Timpson Orchards sand mining operation.
While some of those in attendance at the planning commission meeting applauded the change, others worry it poses a safety hazard. That’s because the center lane is being added to facilitate the development of a new drive for trucks to enter and exit the sand mining operation.
New Drive to Timpson Sand Mine
For years, trucks entering and exiting the sand mine have done so on Segwun Ave. However, residents in the area have long complained about the truck traffic. They say trucks speed through what they call the road’s “s curve.” Those in attendance at the Monday meeting also said they have been forced off the road by trucks because the street is too narrow to accommodate them.
John Timpson says he is trying to alleviate those concerns by building a drive from the sand mining operation to Alden Nash Ave. “According to the Kent County Road Commission, it’s already been improved,” he said. However, the road commission recommended he meet with township officials to be sure the plan met their requirements as well.
As proposed, the drive will accommodate traffic both into and out of the sand mine. The center lane on Alden Nash would begin south of the Lowell Charter Township Hall and end before the Christian Life Center Church.
Safety of Truck Traffic on Alden Nash Disputed
While residents on Segwun are pleased with the plans for a new drive, those on Alden Nash have serious concerns about trucks pulling out onto the road. Foremost on everyone’s mind seems to be a recent accident in which a teen turning onto Emery was struck by a semi-truck and killed.
“As Lowell develops, that’s just going to get busier and busier,” Philip Roth, a local resident, said of the street. “My concern is the speed limit is 55.”
The planning commission members noted they can’t control the speed limit on the road, which is under the jurisdiction of the county. However, they can place restrictions on the drive and prohibit its use during peak times. That’s something Timpson says he’ll do even if it isn’t required by the planning commission. “There are times on Alden Nash I don’t want to see a truck pull out,” he said.
Colleen Timpson added the drive won’t add any traffic to Alden Nash either. Trucks already travel from Segwun to Alden Nash as part of their route. The drive would simply bypass the need for those vehicles to be on Segwun. “This road is designed for trucks,” she said of Alden Nash. “It truly is a safer road.”
Next Steps for the Center Lane on Alden Nash
Planning commission member Scott Edwards expressed concerns about the plan. “There have been no deaths on Segwun,” he said. “There have been deaths on Alden Nash.” He questioned whether a better solution would be to have one way traffic into the sand mine off Alden Nash and then have trucks exit to Segwun or vice versa.
Timpson said that would be a significantly less expensive option for him, but the Kent Country Road Commission had recommended adding the center lane. Without taking a formal vote, the planning commission agreed it was their intent to support the two-lane drive and addition of a center lane on Alden Nash.
At its next meeting, the planning commission will discuss restrictions for the drive, such as limiting the hours it can be used. Timpson agreed to get sample signage to the commission for review. In response to a question from a resident, he also said he would talk to the road commission to see if the center lane could be extended past the Christian Life Center to allow for safer turns onto Emery.
The next Lowell Township Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for 7pm on April 10, 2017 in the township hall. There was no word on when construction on the center lane will begin.