Two for the road… Concerns, collisions mark East-West intersection

By on February 8, 2017
Photo by Michele Walter Fry A truck slows down on Line Road while a vehicle tries to make a left from Stevens Road.
Photo by Michele Walter Fry A truck slows down on Line Road while a vehicle tries to make a left from Stevens Road.

Photo by Michele Walter Fry
A truck slows down on Line Road while a vehicle tries to make a left from Stevens Road.

Two intersections connecting two municipalities on Line Road in Stevens experience a number of vehicle collisions and that has folks worried.

The road splits East and West Cocalico townships and is the alternative for Route 272.

The area of concern is where North Line Road intersects with Stevens Road (on the East Cocalico side of the intersection) and Short Road (West Cocalico side of the intersection). The intersection after that, North Line turns into South Line Road and the West Cocalico road with which it intersects is Indiantown Road and the East Cocalico road name is Wabash Road.

Tom Zimmerman has a box at the Stevens Post Office, which is at the corner of South Line and Indiantown.

“There was a bad accident where a girl was hurt real bad,” said Zimmerman. “Her eyes were popped out of her eye sockets, the impact was that bad. People don’t realize until you’re in an accident how violent it is. It’s the most violent thing anyone is going to experience.”

Even though there are no stop signs at Line Road at either intersection, drivers are either slowing down or stopping anyway.

One of the postal workers at the Stevens Post Office spoke, but not on the record. The individual’s personal car was hit while it was parked in the post office lot.

Donald Eckman, who resides at 105 S. Line Road, has seen his share of accidents along his stretch of road where the speed limit is 35 mph.

“I’ve lived here 13 years and there’s better than 50 accidents already,” said Eckman.

“I believe there were three or four accidents in November, one of them was my sister.”

Eckman was asked why he thinks the intersection is dangerous.

“The intersection is offset,” said Eckman. “Going from Wabash over to Indiantown Road, the road isn’t exactly straight, and not too many people know how to make the corner or aren’t paying attention.

“Because drivers (on Line Road) can’t see cars, they have people almost against their porch and I recently had somebody end up in my yard because of collisions. If you’re coming from Wabash going to Indiantown, it’s hard to see Line Road. If you’re coming from Indiantown Road going across to Wabash, it’s a little hard to see to your right, down Line Road.”

Drivers are slowing down which could lead to rear-end collisions.

“I see people slow down (on Line Road), especially the local people,” said Eckman. “A stop sign would work, but you have everybody wanting to go straight to Denver or Ephrata. If you got people used to the stop sign, maybe that would be the answer. You have a lot of school and work traffic; it’s a very busy road.”

Joe and Kathy Gehman live at 2 Stevens Road/N. Line Road.

“He’s lived here since ‘53 and I’ve lived here since ‘71 and we’ve seen a lot of accidents,” said Kathy Gehman. “I don’t want to see stop signs here because we’d never get out of our driveway. I wait sometimes five minutes to get out of our driveway as it is. They had talked about that before. Recently, a guy at five in the morning ran the stop sign coming from Schoeneck and hit our porch.”

“The week before that, the neighbor took a big tree down (because of visibility) on the corner, which I guess he was told to from what we understand,” said Joe Gehman.

“West Cocalico, that same week, painted a big white line across the road at the stop sign. West Cocalico has a big red blinking light on their stop sign.”

Steve Gabriel, interim East Cocalico Township manager, cautioned about citizen reaction to the what is perceived as a dangerous intersection. He also questioned media inquiries.

“Don’t rely on the reports of accidents from the public because we all are guilty of over sensing what’s going on,” said Gabriel. “It’s great to know they have a concern, and that’s important and that gives you the initial, ‘Hey, there’s something going on and I need to look in to it.’

“Until there’s a solution provided by the reporter, it’s only doing half the job. You are raising an alarm without giving a solution, it’s only doing half the job. I’m asking you to work for the drivers that you say you’re concerned about.”

East Cocalico Police Chief Terry Arment also weighed in.

“The intersection would be state controlled, so that would be PennDOT as far as signage or any kind of control implements,” said Arment. “Part of the issue may be visibility. PennDOT would have to do a traffic study and they would determine if stop signs would be applicable at those locations. That has nothing to do with the police department or the township. There are crashes there, absolutely, I don’t know why that many.”

Arment later followed up on the topic, but could give only information on the East Cocalico sides of the intersections.

“Our office manager ran the report for the above intersections from June 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016,” he said. “We had a total of seven crashes during that time period between the two intersections. As we spoke about on the phone, that would not include the West Cocalico side, involving Line Road where it intersects with Short and Indiantown Roads at the same four-way intersections. Those stats would be obtained from Ephrata PD.

“The most prevalent causation factor would be stop sign violations. Either the driver did not stop at the stop sign or they stopped and then proceeded without the proper safe clearance.”

The Ephrata Police Department spoke to activity on the West Cocalico side of Line Road between June 1 and Dec. 31.

“I searched for those intersections in our report system,” said Lt. Christopher McKim, who expressed the department’s appreciation for the attention to the intersection. “Our records indicate a total of four crashes in the time frame requested.”

McKim listed the cause or type of accidents:

* One vehicle entered roadway from private driveway into the path of an oncoming vehicle;

* One rear-end collision;

* One left turn where someone turned left in front of an oncoming vehicle;

* One stop sign, failure to stop.

“As to whether these intersections have more crashes than others, the answer I give you isn’t going to settle anything,” said McKim. “Yes, there are more crashes here than at some other intersections. No, there are other intersections where crashes are more prevalent.

“There are plans in the works to conduct a future study that will give us an idea of the speed situation that goes beyond anecdotal observations.”

West Cocalico has blinking lights on top of the stop signs on its side of the intersection.

“While there was a period of time where we had a fair number of accidents at the intersection close to the Stevens Post office, we have made changes to our side of the intersection at Short Road which seems to have really helped,” said Carolyn Hildebrand, West Cocalico Township manager. “We put up a stop ahead sign with a yellow blinker on top and installed a red blinker on the stop sign. We also moved the stop sign to a different location in the intersection. Our side of the intersection is quite wide and I believe drivers didn’t notice the stop sign before. We moved it back so that it was more in line with the drivers’ line of sight as well as in line with Stevens Road.”

Hildebrand added that the supervisors could request that PennDOT do a traffic study to make changes.

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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