New Wawa to Open by Year’s End at Former Acme Site
A series of road upgrades and traffic signalization improvements will accompany a brand-new Wawa on West Trenton Avenue and Pine Grove Road.
Construction of the 5,586-square-foot convenience store and gas station is expected to get underway by July and reach completion by Christmas, officials told the Falls Township Board of Supervisors. The new development features a new traffic signal, left and right turn lanes into the store, two lanes exiting the Wawa, traffic signal timing improvements, widening of the roadway on Pine Grove Road, as well as 26 Americans with Disabilities Act ramps at intersections and pedestrian accommodations, including sidewalks along West Trenton Avenue and Pine Grove Road.
Following careful consideration and public comment from residents both in favor of and in opposition to the development, the board voted 4-1 to grant conditional use approval to allow Wawa to operate gas pumps at the site. Fueling stations are allowed in the township's highway commercial district under conditional use only. One of the pumps would be full service, enabling customers with disabilities and others who desire full service to be accommodated with a push of a button. Wawa officials said employees would pump customers' gas, on request, for no additional cost. Supervisor Jeff Dence voted no on the conditional use application.
The Supervisors also voted unanimously to amend the preliminary and final land development plan to swap out a 6,000-square-foot restaurant at the corner of Pine Grove and West Trenton Avenue for the Wawa. The rest of the 8.7-acre development is proposed to include a 14,578-square-foot pharmacy, as well as an 1,850-square-foot fast food restaurant with drive-in.
To address residents' concerns, the board requested that Wawa store deliveries and trash pickup be restricted between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Supervisors Chairman Bob Harvie also suggested that tractor trailer deliveries be limited to access at Pine Grove Road only. Wawa officials agreed.
Wawa officials said it is anticipated that one or two fuel deliveries would be made daily. When the Acme was onsite, Harvie said the store was receiving two deliveries daily from tractor trailers, with only one entrance and exit. "It's relatively the same as what it used to be," Harvie said.
Also about the same is the anticipated traffic on the roads, according to Matt Hammond of Traffic Planning and Design Inc. "This is a convenience type of facility," Hammond said, noting that most of Wawa's customers will be motorists passing by the site. "People will not go a mile or two miles out of their way."
The previously planned restaurant addition, on the other hand, would have added new traffic to the intersection simply because drivers would have ventured out of a normal daily commute for restaurant dining, he said. Hammond said his firm took traffic counts during peak morning hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on five separate days - even though traffic planners are only required to collect such data on one day. Counts were taken with someone observing and recording traffic; as well as using a camera to record intersection traffic.
"I was encouraged to see the traffic report," Harvie said, adding that township professionals arrived at the same results. "Our traffic engineer looked at and came to the same conclusion." Harvie shared that a rebuild of a Wawa store on Wistar and New Falls roads helped to improve traffic and hoped this new Wawa would have similar results.
"That gave me a little bit more peace of mind listening to the traffic information," he said. "The comfort level I had looking at this plan was growing. I know certain people are disappointed in our vote. I think, in general, the plan is a good one."