DOWNINGTOWN - The borough is in the process of getting a sophisticated new traffic signal system, as well as an upgrade to the sidewalks on West Lancaster Avenue, although not everyone is happy about it.
Some business owners along West Lancaster Avenue have complained, borough officials acknowledged.
Dave Nippes of Conley Kitchens said it was hard for customers to get in the front door of his business with the sidewalk torn up. He also complained the borough hadn't given any advance notice of the upcoming work.
Under Phase II of the Street-scapes plan, West Lancaster Avenue between Manor Avenue and Stuart Avenue is getting a new brick sidewalk, ornamental lighting, new trees and trash cans. It's basically the same work that was done to the east side of Lancaster Avenue almost 10 years ago.
These are amenities that Nippes, for one, doesn't want.
"I don't like brick sidewalks," Nippes said. "Women's high heels get caught in them and they (the bricks) heave in the winter."
As far as trees go, he said he doesn't want a tree in front of his business blocking his sign.
Bruce Bredickas of Ralston & Bredickas Funeral Homes said that Monday was the first day the sidewalk was torn up. He lost four street parking spots temporarily for his customers but he still has his parking lot.
"It will be an inconvenience, but it doesn't bother me." As far as the new brick sidewalks and trees, "It will be beautiful," he said.
Work on the closed-loop traffic signal project has led to streets being torn up. The closed-loop system will interconnect all traffic signals in the borough through a computer at Borough Hall. It can be programmed to increase the duration of green lights at any intersection.
"It will speed up the flow of traffic so people will have more time going to work in the morning and (conversely) will speed up the traffic in the afternoon with people going home," said Borough Council President Anthony Madiro Jr.
It will also help police and fire vehicles respond to emergencies faster. The traffic lights in the borough are so old now that they can't utilize a system that allows police and fire vehicles to change the signal so they can speed through the intersection, said Madiro, a member of a volunteer fire company.
The foundations and conduit for the new signals are being installed throughout the borough as well as sensors in the roads. Construction on this part of the project is taking a little longer than anticipated, said Jack Law, director of public works, because workmen inadvertently discovered some PECO electrical wiring.
The intersections that will be getting new traffic lights as part of the closed-loop system are the intersections of Pennsylvania and Wallace avenues, Pennsylvania and Uwchlan avenues, West Lancaster Avenue and Green Street, East Lancaster and Manor avenues, West Lancaster and Downing avenues and West Lancaster and Lloyd avenues.
The old signals won't be removed until the new system is in place.
The last part of the closed-loop project - reconfiguring the Business 30 and Route 322 intersection - will not get started until sometime in 2007. The median strip in the middle of Brandywine Avenue/Route 322 will be removed to make a wider turning lane for trucks turning southbound onto Route 322. A longer turning lane will be created for those making a right-hand turn onto East Lancaster Avenue from Route 322. Wallace Avenue will also be reduced from three lanes to one lane with parking spaces added on each side. Reducing the width of Wallace will make it easier for pedestrians to cross.
PennDOT is paying 100 percent of the cost of this project in a deal worked out whereby the borough paid for the realignment of Route 113 and East Lancaster Avenue.