"We just don't know what to do," Novak said, during the Milford Township Board of Supervisors meeting on March 7. "Making the road wider and straighter and more of a highway is just going to make people go faster and faster."

By: Toni Becker

While Christine Novak showed opposition toward the widening of Fels Road, the Milford Township resident said she's really just looking for the solution to an ongoing problem.

"We just don't know what to do," Novak said, during the Milford Township Board of Supervisors meeting on March 7. "Making the road wider and straighter and more of a highway is just going to make people go faster and faster."

Novak's comments were in regards to an ongoing project by the township to replace drainage lines along Fels Road, at the same time making it more uniform by widening portions of the road.

"As crews put in stormwater improvements, it makes sense to widen the road," Township Engineer Pete Anderson said, adding that there are portions of the road that are very narrow. "We've been doing this for some time to make the roads a little wider, a little safer."

Novak, who attended the meeting, along with her husband Ray and their 7-month-old daughter Aubrey, said she's concerned the improvements will increase the speeding problem along the road, which, according to her, is regularly 55 to 60 mph, in excess of the posted 40 mph limit.

Board Chairperson Charles Strunk said other residents have had similar concerns when they found out a road near their home would be widened.

"It's not more dangerous," Strunk said, of the widening. "It's actually safer."

Anderson said the road, which goes from Trumbauersville to Sleepy Hollow roads, will be widened in general on one side of the road by 2 to 3 feet in some spots.

A double-yellow line was also painted along Fels Road, dividing the road clearly into two lanes.

Donald Fox, who lives on a section of the road which was already completed, said his wife, Lorraine, drives Fels Road every day and previously would have to pull over to allow speeding vehicles to pass by.

"The improvements you made last year were great," Fox said. "She can keep on going without that fear. It's a lot safer than it was."

Novak, however, said the double-yellow line in front of her home has encouraged drivers to speed even faster, resulting in six deers killed in eight weeks.

To help combat the speeding problem, Novak said, she and her husband purchased deer crossing signs from the township, and constructed homemade signs cautioning drivers to slow down.

The plywood signs bearing messages like "Six Deer Hit! Slow Down," have worked to deter speeding in front of their home, Novak said, but not on all of Fels Road.

"I don't think making roads unsafe, narrow or forcing busses to slow down to pass each other is the answer," Township Manager Jeff Vey said.

Drivers will speed no matter what, supervisors said, and making the road wider will not encourage higher speeds but actually make it safer for speeders and non-speeders.

"If you want to go out and walk or push a baby carriage, you'll at least have enough room to work with," Strunk said.

Novak said she's not against the widening, per se, but believes something needs to be done about the problem.

"Whatever we can, if there's something we can do," Supervisor Tim Damiani said, about addressing the Novaks' problems.

According to Strunk, the work to improve Fels and other back roads has been on going since he was first elected to the board more than 20 years ago.

Damiani said that was one of his promises when he ran for supervisor - to continue the long-term planning by the township. The next meeting of the Milford Township Board of Supervisors will be held on March 21.

Toni Becker is a reporter for The Free Press. She can be reached at tkbecker@berksmontnews.com.

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