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Honesdale traffic heats up; Pedestrian safety remains an issue

By Fritz Mayer
December 4, 2013

The question of whether traffic on Main Street and Church Street in the borough should be two way or one way is heating up again. The spark this time is a study done by the Honesdale traffic engineer, and paid for by the council, which found that since the traffic pattern changed in 2009, traffic accidents have increased by 30%.

At a special meeting of the council in late November, a motion passed, which requests that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) re-visit the issue of the traffic pattern. The motion recommended that PennDot change the traffic pattern back to two-way, and that PennDot also foot the entire bill for doing so.

According to the discussion at the meeting, the traffic pattern changed as a result of a deal with PennDot before 2009 concerning the new Fourth Street bridge over the Lackawaxen River. As the council was considering building the new bridge, they contacted PennDot, which gave them three options regarding the project.

One option was that it could be quashed altogether, another was that they could accept the borough’s plan, and a third was that PennDot could redesign the project. The board voted at the time for the “as is” option, but that was contingent on the borough accepting one-way traffic on the two streets.

Several board members expressed the opinion that the council accepted the one-way traffic patterns for the two busiest streets in town because they believed that a new bridge over the river was vitally important to the borough.

But ever since the change was made, members of the public have repeatedly turned up at meetings to complain about safety issues. Pedestrians have repeatedly said that they feel endangered because the traffic moves faster on both Main and Church streets.

At least one Main Street merchant has complained that one-way traffic on Main Street discourages drivers from patronizing his business establishment.

Early on, some officials thought the new traffic pattern was working out fairly well. Ed Langendoerfer, who was council president at the time, told a newspaper in 2010 that the pattern was working well with the exception of pedestrian safety and excessive speed.

The complaints about those to issues have only increased in the years since, but it’s not clear what the response will be. A spokesman for PennDot did not return a call seeking comment.