Freeholders seeking public input from Burlington Township residents for Route 541 development plan

At two meetings in September, residents will have a chance to voice their opinions on a master plan for Route 541. Multiple changes to the county highway master plan were adopted on June 12 since its last update in 1989. (Thomas Wiedmann/The Sun)

The Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders is asking Burlington Township residents to provide feedback about traffic and transportation issues along Route 541 this month.

Freeholder Daniel O’Connell said county professionals are working with the City of Burlington, Burlington Township, Westampton Township and Mount Holly Township to develop a transportation and circulation plan for Route 541, which is a county road.

He explained that part of the planning process includes soliciting input from residents of those municipalities.

Burlington Township residents, O’Connell said, will have the opportunity to offer their comments during two public sessions and through an online survey.

The public sessions are planned for 4-7 p.m. on Sept. 23 in the Westampton Township municipal building, 710 Rancocas Road, and 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 28 in the Burlington Township municipal building, 851 Old York Road.

The freeholders said the residents’ input would be part of the county’s highway master plan, a guide for municipalities and a resource for implementing improvements on Route 541.

Multiple changes to the highway master plan were adopted on June 12 since its last update in 1989.

The updated plan, which was commissioned by the county and prepared in partnership with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, is the result of a three-year collaborative planning process, according to county officials.

While preparing the plan, county officials said they obtained “vital input” from municipalities and strategic partners.

According to recent traffic studies, county officials said an estimated 31,000 vehicles use Route 541/Burlington-Mount Holly Road between Route 130 in Burlington City and Route 38 in Mount Holly each day.

Approximately 550 trucks use Exit 5 of the New Jersey Turnpike and 400 trucks use Exit 47 of Interstate 295 daily, officials reported.

O’Connell said in a statement that the adopted changes to the highway master plan were influenced by an increase in population for multiple county municipalities, including Burlington Township.

“The freeholder board is committed to improving road safety for all residents in our county,” O’Connell said. “Our county is growing. In the last 20 years, the four towns along the Route 541 corridor – the City of Burlington, Burlington Township, Westampton and Mount Holly – have seen their population increase by 2,785 residents, more than 7 percent. The number of households in these towns has increased by 2,263, nearly 15 percent.”

He said although there has been an influx of residents in those towns, that growth also promotes more opportunity for local commerce and residential development.

“Growth has brought new commercial and residential opportunity,’’ O’Connell said. “More economic growth means more traffic. Our goal is to plan accordingly and improve infrastructure so our residents can continue to enjoy the same easy accessibility throughout the county.”

The Burlington County Bridge Commission’s Department of Economic Development and Regional Planning obtained a grant from the DVRPC to fund the Route 541 plan. County officials said no county taxpayer dollars are being expended to complete the plan.

Officials said the purpose of the plan is to advance and improve the county’s highway infrastructure to meet current and future demands, and to determine necessary rights-of-way and road features.

The new plan also details transportation improvements beyond new paved roads and sidewalks based on data pertaining to traffic management plans to relieve congestion, according to officials.

The plan is available at www.dvrpc.org/Products/18019/ and the interactive maps at www.dvrpc.org/webmaps/BCHMP. It is aimed to serve as a tool for developers, utility companies and governmental agencies to understand the county’s ultimate rights-of-way and desired road cross-sections. It provides guidance in the design of land development projects.

Officials said the plan also provides a framework for the future development and improvement of the county highway system. The freeholders said they are working to address specific traffic and circulation issues by developing sub-regional plans, such as the Northern Route 130 Circulation Plan that includes portions of the City of Burlington, Burlington Township, Florence Township and Mansfield Township.

A website with information and an opportunity to comment through an online survey is available at www.bcbridges.org/541-project