Friday, April 9, 2021

The Truck Stop Tango in Upper Macungie

       If you live anywhere in Upper Macungie, Pennsylvania, you endure constant, and yes, perilous Semi tractor trailer traffic everyday, and everywhere. Those of us who have resided here for a decade or two remember back in the 1990s before all the warehouses were built. Some of us even remember route 100 as a two lane road thru Trexlertown. For decades, residents begged their Township Supervisors to stand up to the Jaindl family and resists their never ending zoning demands. 

       That never happened. Instead, they produced a series of zoning proposals that were, in all cases, as ineffective in controlling the excess development as fly swatters against the swarms of flies that used to congregate on the many piles of cow crap that long ago ruled the area. You know, back when farm land was considered open space, unlike now, when they count the drainage ditch between your home and the road as defining that. 

      So we have trucks everywhere all the time, intermingled between the overpopulated mcmansion lands and the denizens access to the super highways that get them to their jobs the next state over. The trucks clogged the overcrowded roads, and park anywhere they can get away with. Traveling the roads in our township is a dangerous dance at almost any time a day. Building two what will be very busy Truck facilities on both sides of a heavily traveled highway is one dance Tango that will not be for the faint of heart. Pedestrians and bicyclist can barely get across the bypass now with a traffic light to help them. The kids at the elementary will eventually try. Trucks doing 65 or better roll thru that intersection regularly now. It IS a recipe for calamity.

        You would think the cure to this would be to build Truck stops and provide adequate parking. So when you have dueling proposals for just such things in close proximity to each other, you would think "Hey, this is a win-win!"

         The Rutters Chain wants to build one of their full service truck stops in the last remaining cornfield along the bypass, at the South West corner of the bypass and the intersections of Cetronia and Grange road. The Sheetz Chain wants to build at the North East corner of Cetronia and Trexlertown roads, on the site of where there used to be a grain processing facility, silos and all. That all was razed about a decade ago, after most of the farmland had been paved over for warehouses and mcmansions.

          If you think building these facilities will solve the problem, you are wrong. Because nature abhors a vacuum. Once you expand truck capacity, more trucks will come to fill it. Traffic is bad now, but I guarantee it will get worse. I wish it would stop, but it won't, and I hate to say it, but the fix is already in. All those large supply chain management companies that call the area home, as well as Nestle Waters, Bimbo Bread, and the Brewery folks, all of whom need the constant access to the large aquifers under the township for their production, they will not be cutting back their truck capacity. They all want to expand it. Fed Ex, Amazon, Home Depot, and Shop Rite all want more parking for Trucks with appointments at their facilities to stay off site. They all want to add MORE capacity. They also love pointing out how many more jobs they will have, creating even MORE traffic. 

       This is a done deal. Residents will get their bitch and moan day. The Supervisors will nod like the bobbleheads they are in agreement. Then they will vote to approve, and give perfectly good reasons to justify it. "it will cost too much to fight, and we can't afford it", or they will point to zoning laws and say they have to abide by them. There will always be some excuse.

         The truth is, this battle was lost 30 years ago when those supervisor boards got in bed with their developer buddies and set this course when this outcome hadn't been thought out. Even ten years in they claimed it wouldn't get this bad. Yet here we are. Sheetz and Rutters will both get built eventually. I bet they are both open and operating before the end of 2023.

        I wish it weren't so, but I am a realist. The battle was lost decades ago. The only choice now is how we will all learn to cope with it. 

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