Ship Road Couplet
What is the Ship Road Couplet?
The intersection of Ship Road and Lincoln Highway was one of several locations identified in the Township’s Capital Improvements Plan (2015) as needing an upgrade to prevent congestion from getting worse on the Township’s main roads. This particular upgrade is challenging because it is not feasible to simply add lanes to the existing road due to the impact that would have on several important historic buildings, including St. Mary’s Chapel and the Ship Inn. Instead, the Plan proposed a “couplet” – an additional lane offset from but coupled with the existing road – around the intersection.
The Ship Road Couplet consists of one new lane for Ship Road that will wind behind (and to the west of) Ship Inn north of Lincoln Highway and behind St. Mary’s Chapel and down past Service King south of Lincoln Highway. Northbound traffic will continue to use Ship Road as it exists today. Southbound traffic will be diverted to the right onto a new lane immediately after crossing the Chester Valley Trail. This lane will pass the west side of the Ship Inn, intersect Lincoln Highway at a new traffic signal, continue south, and rejoin the existing road just before the Exton By-Pass.
The Couplet also includes a public trail that will complete most of the planned connection between the existing Chester Valley Trail north of Ship Inn and the Chester Valley Trail extension planned for the out-of-service freight rail line south of the Exton By-Pass.
- The Township has completed final surveying and preliminary engineering design work for the portion of the Couplet north of Lincoln Highway and continues dialogue with affected property owners.
- The Township was awarded a PA Multi-Modal Transportation Grant for construction of the northern 1/3 of the couplet road and trail. Matching funds will come from transportation impact fees collected from developers.
- Two developers have submitted plans that include the southern 2/3 of the Couplet road and trail that are currently under Conditional Use review. Approval of those plans would be conditioned upon the developers constructing that portion of the Couplet.
What is the Proposed Development?
Properties near the intersection of Ship Road and Lincoln Highway – the former Entenmann’s site and the back half of the Laborer’s District Council Training Center property – are for sale. Two developers have the properties under agreement.
There are several phases to the development review process:
- The Board of Supervisors approved a Zoning Ordinance amendment in May 2019 to allow for two new uses in the zoning district around Ship Road and Lincoln Highway - a convenience store with gas pumps and single-family homes (where only townhomes and apartments were permitted). The developers who requested that zoning change are proposing to work together to construct the southern 2/3 of the Ship Road Couplet. A Traffic Impact Study was completed in April 2020 for the Couplet’s southwest quadrant to examine the likely impact from the proposed development.
- Conditional Use (CU):Not every project requires CU review; however, since this project proposes fifteen or more dwelling units and 20,000 square feet or more of floor space for a non-residential use, it must go through the CU process. The CU process includes a review by the Planning Commission, Historical Commission and a formal hearing before the Board of Supervisors. The Board may include reasonable conditions with their approval. The CU Plans were reviewed by the Historical Commission at their June 8 meeting and the Planning Commission at their June 9, September 1, and October 20 meetings. The Board of Supervisors reviewed the Plans at their November 10 and February 10 meetings, where both projects were approved. The CU plan proposes:
- Subdivision & Land Development (SD/LD): The SD/LD process includes a review by the Planning and Historical Commissions with final approval by the Board of Supervisors. The SD/LD plans for 95 single-family homes have been reviewed by the Historical and Planning Commissions (April and June, 2021) where they were recommended for approval to the Board of Supervisors. The Board will review the plans once they have been resubmitted for final approval. The plans for the gas station and convenience store and 68 townhomes are under review by Township consultants and staff. The Historical Commission made a recommendation to the Board to approve at their meeting August 9, 2021. The Board will review for final approval once the Planning Commission makes a recommendation later this fall.