Opinion | Campaign Issues in Whitemarsh | Straightening Dogleg Intersection on Butler Pike

This is part of a series of opinion pieces on what we feel are important issues in the upcoming elections for seats on municipal councils and boards in the Borough of Conshohocken, the Borough of West Conshohocken, Plymouth Township, and Whitemarsh Township.

In Whitemarsh Township, the November 2nd election includes two seats on the Board of Supervisors. Votes can vote for any two. Below is a list of who is running:

Francis P. McCusker, Jr. (Incumbent, D)
Patrice M. Turenne (D)
Fran O’Donnell (R)
Christi O’Donoghue Rotelle (R)

The Butler Pike Dogleg

The effort to straighten the dogleg intersection at Germantown and Butler pikes has a long history. In 2018, MoreThanTheCurve.com published a history of this intersection and the effort to straighten it. You can read this article here.

As MoreThanTheCurve.com reported on October 18th, Montgomery County is seeking public comment on its vision plan for Butler Pike and other pikes in the county. The vision plan can be found here.

While this plan is before the public for comment, there are other actions being taken by Whitemarsh Township that could impact this issue.

The Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 during its April 8th meeting to approve an agreement of sale for the township and the Whitemarsh Art Center to purchase the property that is home to historic Abolition Hall near the intersection of Butler Pike and Germantown Pike in the Plymouth Meeting section of the township. The purchase price is $3.95 million. The property is under agreement but the sale has not yet been completed.

This month, the Board of Supervisors voted to advertise an ordinance that would authorize the acquisition of a 2.71-acre property (4046 Butler Pike) that is adjacent to the Abolition Hall property for $810,000. The township would utilize Act 153 Open Space funds for the purchase. The property has a vacant home on it that is in disrepair. A vote to move forward with the sale will take place on November 4th.

While the township would always have an influence on any decision on straightening the intersection, these two acquisitions will enhance its role as it would also become a key property owner.

Those opposed to straightening the intersection argue that it will result in the historical property being split and buildings being separated by the roadway. There are also concerns that an improved intersection will lead to an increase in traffic.

The candidates that are up for election in Whitemarsh will likely represent two of five votes in how this issue moves forward.

On the county’s website about the development of the vision plan, it states (note that this is older text dating back to when the study commenced).

Over the next few months, the county and consultant team will be reaching out to municipal leaders and the public to gather information about existing corridor features, traffic conditions, safety concerns, and future travel needs.

As you see it mentions “municipal leaders” had a role in its development. While it is not know whether Whitemarsh’s leadership advocated for or against the straightening being included, the issue did make it to the current version of the vision plan.

Whitemarsh is solidly under one-party rule and there has been aboslutely zero campaign discussion this election season.

Let them know how you feel about this issue in the comments.