Let’s talk speeding in the Borough of Chambersburg

July 11 – Last night’s Chambersburg Borough Council meeting was relatively short, but citizen comment addressed speeding in town. 

The first order of business was recognition of the student council members. Stephanie Drake, deputy executive director of Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, attended the meeting to present certificates to the two junior council people. 

Allen Coffman, borough council president, said, “It was nice to meet her and we do have the certificates to give to the two young ladies as soon as we can get them to them.”

During public comment, a number of people stepped up to the mic. 

Speeding was discussed on Scotland Avenue between Norland Avenue and Park Avenue. Another citizen complained about speeding in an alley near where he lives. 

Coffman said, “So there was a lot of discussion on that. Those aren’t the only two areas that happen in town, that’s for sure. But I told the one gentleman, I said if you’re interested in traffic calming and he was, that was the second item that was on our list to discuss last night. So when I told him that I said it would probably be in your best interest if you’d stay and you could hear about this, he left. So you have to wonder about people’s intentions. They complain about it and then when you want to talk about it, they leave. We did our part to discuss it and I think council now understands it better than they did before, too.” 

One question that’s been on the minds of motorists for years is why can’t Pennsylvania get radar for municipalities? 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “There’s nothing that really can be done until you arm the officers and the departments with the tools necessary. What are we the last state in the union to get radar? That alone should say everything to those lawmakers in Pennsylvania right?”

“It should,” Coffman agreed. “They keep talking about this being a money maker for municipalities. I can assure you it is not. We’ve looked at the numbers. It doesn’t pay for an officer even if he worked full time. The portion of the fine that the borough gets from a speeding thing like that is certainly not enough to support an officer’s wage and that’s not the intention anyway. The intention is to get people to slow down and abide by the speed limit.”

There is a bill to make it happen in the PA General Assembly, but it always seems to end up stuck in a committee in the PA House or Senate. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “I don’t think the Democrats are doing any better job than the Republicans did. At least with the House. It’s been referred to Transportation, but they’ve done nothing with it. The Senate version had a couple different things happen to it in the transportation committee and I think it’s been referred to Appropriations, but doesn’t seem like they’re lighting a fire under it.”

Coffman pointed out, “You have to remember that this topic has gone on for at least 29 and a half years now. They can’t seem to get the ball across the finish line.”

Ryan said, “It’s complete incompetence and shame on all of those lawmakers, especially right now. Shame on you guys and gals. I drive through Hagerstown and when it says 25 as you’re coming in off of 6A, everybody slows down because they’ve got those little contraptions that will snap your picture and send you a little love note from the state or the city. I would tend to think, you put a couple of those around here, those problems go away awfully quickly. They’re computer boxes that take the speed and then send you, here, thanks for speeding through our area. Now pay up.”

Coffman said, “It’s interesting to note, I think the only place I believe that’s authorized in the state of Pennsylvania is in the wonderful city of Philadelphia.”

“Oh great,” Ryan lamented. “They’re doing such a good job with crime in that city. I remember talking to the former Mayor Walt Bietsch about that and I would complain about the speeding on South Main Street. Now to the Police Department’s credit here in Chambersburg, they listened to me. They came down and they set up this contraption that gave them an average of okay, we’ve got maybe 5000 cars and here’s a period of time and of those 5000 cars here was the average speed that went through there. There might have been a couple of spikes, but I see it right in front of me so I think to myself that we’ve got a huge speeding problem. But they were wise enough to say you know what, it’s not as bad as it would appear because you’re so close to it. But I tell you, setting that box up right at the corner as people make their bend around the fountain would be a great thing if these lawmakers would just get off their lazy you-know-whats and do something about it.” 

Coffman said, “I certainly agree with that. I’d certainly like to see that get done this year, but I’m not holding my breath for it, but remember, they have to get the state budget taken care of first. They’re already overdue with that one.”

Ryan predicted, “I’ll bet you we will get recreational marijuana before they can competently get radar for these municipalities.”

Coffman laughed, “I would not take that bet because I think you’re right.”

Another item discussed at last night’s meeting was the storm sewer project for the Falling Spring Presbyterian Church floodplain restoration. 

Coffman explained, “What this is, is an effort to redo or improve as far as storm water, the area behind the Falling Spring Presbyterian Church. So what we did last night, we took the action to get a company by the name of Biohabitats out of Baltimore to do an assessment of the area and how much we can reduce the pollutants that go into the Conococheague. They’ve been authorized now to do that. So we’ll wait till they come back with their plan. It’s important to get it done. It probably will open it up enough to some people being able to walk through that area. Right now it’s a pretty rough area and I think it will open it up for another walking area on the other side of the Conococheague from the rail trail.”