Peters Township prepares to update transportation program
More than four years have passed since Peters Township last updated its transportation capital improvements program, which assigns money collected through the local traffic impact fee to specified projects.
That’s too long, according to township manager Paul Lauer.
“We need to every year update this budget so that it clearly reflects what it is we are doing,” he told members of Peters’ council and planning commission during a March 6 workshop session.
“We have an obligation to budget the expenditure of this money within a three-year period,” Lauer said about the impact fees. “You can keep pushing that further down the road, but you have to take action to do that.”
A traffic fee advisory committee, which includes all planning commission members and representatives from the development community, is charged with making “recommendations to approve, disapprove or modify a capital improvement program by preparing a written report containing these recommendations to the township,” according to the traffic impact fee ordinance, adopted in 2008.
Lauer’s recommendation is for such a process to occur annually.
“I just can’t emphasize enough the need to do this ongoing administration, because if we fail to do that, we put ourselves in a position where you may have to refund money that you have collected,” he said.
The township started levying an impact fee to ensure the local transportation system is “adequate to support existing volumes of traffic and traffic projected to be generated by new growth and development,” the ordinance states.
Based in part on the cost of improvements deemed necessary divided by the number of trips that are going to be generated by new developments, the ordinance sets the fee is $1,359 per trip in the northern part of the township and $1,344 in the southern. Under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, the maximums could be $8,305 and $6,599, respectively.
Since the enactment of the ordinance, fees have generated about $1.15 million, helping to pay for such projects as reconfiguring and installing signals at the intersection of East McMurray and Center Church roads, and making improvements to McDowell Lane.
About $680,000 remains, according to Lauer, and that money is earmarked at this point toward two projects that will be financed primarily by the state Department of Transportation: one at Bebout and Valley Brook roads, and the other at Bebout, East McMurray and Thompsonville roads.
The Bebout-Valley Brook intersection, though, is not listed as qualifying for funding on Peters’ transportation capital improvements program, another situation that Lauer said needs to be addressed.
He also said that PennDOT officials intend to follow through on plans to construct a roundabout for traffic control.
“From their perspective, this makes engineering sense,” he explained, “and whatever we’re going to contribute to it is going to be less than what the additional costs are of acquiring the additional right of way” that would be required for a more familiar configuration for the area.