Conshohocken and Plymouth Township should explore obtaining ownership from PennDOT of the West Elm Street corridor

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article on February 21st titled “Philly is trying to gain control of East Market Street from the state. That could help the 76ers’ arena plan.”

The article delved into an effort by the City of Philadelphia to take control of East Market Street from PennDOT, which currently owns and maintains the roadway. PennDOT ownership comes with certain regulations and the city would like to make some changes when it comes to what is allowed along the East Market corridor.

This made us think of the situation along West Elm Street/New Elm Street between Fayette Street and the stop sign near the entrance of the steel mill at Conshohocken Road. If you aren’t familiar, West Elm and New Elm streets, along with Conshohocken Road, are all essentially the same roadway, but it changes names three times in a fairly short distance. You wouldn’t know if you didn’t look at the signs.

As reported, a vehicle recently struck a home along this corridor. Within the past year, a pedestrian, along with a fence have also been hit. Residents along the corridor have been asking for a stop sign at the Light Street intersection for years and improvements and expansion of the sidewalks through the area.

This corridor is owned by PennDOT, which has turned down Plymouth Township’s request for a stop sign stating that the intersection doesn’t meet the criteria, but is willing to install some signage announcing the upcoming intersection. Plymouth Township is working on determining what it can do in regards to the sidewalks.

But what if the Borough of Conshohocken and Plymouth Township, which share a border along this corridor, sought ownership of the roadway from PennDOT? The distance between Fayette Street and the stop sign near the steel mill is 0.8 mile. A majority of the roadway falls on the Plymouth Township side, but it doesn’t really make sense to do it without including the portion in the Borough of Conshohocken.

Any change of ownership would come with a price tag, as the borough and township would then have to maintain the roadway.

If PennDOT makes a deal with Philadelphia to take over East Market Street, the city wants to do it at no cost. It has floated the idea of trading another street with PennDOT in an effort to achieve this.

In Conshohocken and Plymouth Township, the only way to take control of the situation and make safety improvements for the residents is to gain ownership of the roadway.

This should be explored.

UPDATE – After we published this, a reader pointed us to the PennDOT Highway Transfer Turnback Program. The program “allows the transfer of functionally-local state-owned roads, serving a local traffic purpose, from state government to local government ownership. Roads that are candidates for transfer are those that have low average daily traffic, or would benefit the municipality both socially and economically.” PennDOT even pays for the future upkeep.

Photo: Google