The Collegeville Dogleg is History
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at about 2:30 pm, the construction crew working on the Collegeville Royal Farms completed and opened the newly relocated section of Rt 29 in Collegeville Borough. The new road eliminates the need for drivers to navigate the dogleg turns at the Perkiomen Bridge Hotel and bridge.
Motorists can now drive directly through from Rt 29 (Second Avenue) at McDonald’s and connect with Rt 29 (First Avenue / Gravel Pike) at the former Power House building. The realignment significantly shortens the length of one of the Main Street lights and lengthens the turning queue from Main Street to Rt 29 south (Second Avenue). There will still be access to Monro Muffler and the Perkiomen Bridge Hotel from Main Street.
History of the Dogleg
Until the Collegeville exit of the Rt 422 Expressway opened in 1984, Rt 29 through the Borough of Collegeville carried little traffic relative to Ridge and Germantown Pikes. The right–then left turn at Ridge Pike (known locally as the Collegeville dogleg) represented little impediment to local or regional traffic. The 1971 Collegeville Borough Comprehensive Plan called for the area to be developed as a complement to the Main Street business district.
But within a few years of the Rt 422 opening, the region’s chief transportation route shifted from the east/west Ridge Pike to the north/south Rt 29. As a result the Rt 29 corridor through the borough saw unprecedented growth — and traffic.
The Borough of Collegeville first attempted to address the intersection in the late-1990s. It should be noted that communities don’t build intersections and stop lights, developers do as part of their development projects with guidance from the host communities’ Comprehensive Plan. But with no potential developers and a dire need for congestion relief, PennDOT took on the responsibility.
In a series of public meetings, four plans were presented. The first was to do nothing and presented the consequences of that lack of action. The second had Rt 29 going through the empty lot at the intersection of Rt 29 with Main Street but with two lanes and no turning lanes. The final two plans were variations of a dogleg but designed to carry more traffic. Negotiations with the lot’s owner broke down when PennDOT insisted on more lanes and the borough chose one of the dogleg options — option 4 — instead. This version of the dogleg was finished in 2009.
But a dogleg is a dogleg — an inefficient double queue that always presents a bottleneck for heavy traffic.
Two Farms Inc. Straightens the Dogleg
Since the 2009 version was completed, several developers approached the borough to develop the lot. But the configuration of the double intersection provided no way to provide the ingress and egress to the property acceptable to PennDOT.
Then Two Farms Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland stepped up to propose a Royal Farms convenience store / gas station, and as part of the proposal, took on the cost of over $1 million to realign Rt 29 through the property.
Two Farms Inc. received a zoning variance on July 18, 2017 to build a Royal Farms gas station on the lot, a portion of which is located in the Perkiomen Creek floodplain. The Council approved some amendments to the Commercial Office (CO) District to allow a convenience store with gas pumps. Two Farms Inc. was granted final approval by the Collegeville Borough Planning Commission on September 19, 2019 and Borough Council approved the final plan October 2nd. Construction began on June 16, 2020.
The realignment of Rt 29 in Collegeville Borough is one of several Collegeville region traffic improvements. See our post Intersection Improvements Planned for Both Sides of the Perkiomen Bridge for details.