At the September 9th Deptford Planning Board meeting, they approved two new warehouses to be developed on a wooded property adjacent to the closed Kinsley landfill. The two planned buildings are sized at 891,260 sq ft and a 150,215 sq ft. In a change from earlier depictions, all traffic will move through Route 41 (Hurfville Road). This plan will also include updates to the Five Points intersection. Along Rt 41 they also plan a small retail building which will be presented at a later date.
If you arent familiar with the area, scroll to the bottom to seem an overhead diagram of the area. From the entrance to of the warehouses to 5pts it is 1 mile. Seven Star Diner is at this intersection. From 5 pts back up to Rt 55, it is another mile. If the closed (in the 80s) Kinsley landfill is the center of this discussion, the warehouses are North/above, 5 points is South/Below the Landfill, and the Rt 55 exit is West/Left of the landfill.
The developers maintain that they do not have warehouse tenants signed, so none were disclosed.
Oh and let me state up front… this is a long one.. probably because I live in this neighborhood, and I even asked questions at the meeting. So trying to be balanced with my commentary as a resident and also an unbiased reporter. Hopefully I succeed in this write-up.
In this post I cover the project, its road impacts, and in a surprise to many… while the entrance to the new warehouse development will be a mile away, this project will bring improvements to the 5-points intersection.
We reached out to Deptford Mayor Medany on the project and possible traffic concerns
All difficult decisions. It will bring jobs. We are so heavily dependent on retail, we’re hoping to attract some different uses. It is basically a permitted use. It did start out with entrance on Rt 47. Traffic is always a concern in this whole area and we are convinced most of it will head for Rt 55. Hoping this spurs some other attractive uses. Certainly concerned about some places closing permanently (retail)
- Pros: New, large non-retail tax ratable for Deptford. Development and traffic can spur other positive developments along Rt 41. They believe most new traffic will move from 5-points to Rt 55. Intersection improvements for 5-Points could make traffic flow faster, even with more cars.
- Cons: All traffic access in/out of development will be to Rt 41, one mile from 5-points. Potential for a high increase in rush-hour traffic at the new Rt 41 traffic light… 50% increase. Resident concerns regarding impacts on their adjacent properties.
In a town that is very dependent on retail stores for its commercial tax base, this could be a good win for Deptford to add a new large tax ratable in a non-retail capacity. We are all aware of the risks of being too deeply dependent on retail tax dollars, in today’s growing internet economy.
The full property is a large 144 acre wooded and creek filled area, which most people don’t know exists. It’s borders are made up of Rt 55N to its West, the closed landfill to the South, Rt 41 on the East, and a small neighborhood on the North which then leads to Good Intent Rd.
With Rt 41 dotted with a variety of active business lots, the closest vantage point to the secluded woods is on Rt 41 at a small strip of woods between Anco Dr and the Deptford Public Works lot… and it’s in this segment of woods where the new entrance into the warehouses will be placed. The property is actually 5 times wider than that visible portion as it wraps around behind the homes and businesses on 41 (towards Good Intent Rd)
While the wooded area is large, scattered throughout it are wetlands that the developer must work around. The new entry road off of 41 will sit closer to Anco Drive and curve in and off to the South to the where the first (smaller) building will be developed (closest to Kinsley) and defining the Southern edge. The single main roadway wraps around this building and heads to North leading to the massive almost 900,000 sq ft building (which will run inline with Rt 55)
So all of the employee cars, inbound tractor trailers and outbound delivery trucks… all must travel around the smaller 150,000 sq ft warehouse to get out to Route 41. And more importantly, in this new layout, ALL of the traffic must enter and exit at Rt 41.
And I do agree that the “hoping this spurs some other attractive uses” is a real possibility. As a resident in the immediate area who wants it both-ways (ha!), I really would like to see more attractive businesses along Rt 41 (such as the South Jersey Credit Union Headquarters) and can understand how an increase in traffic could attract other businesses and traffic. But then I also don’t want to cripple the roadways!
Parking and Traffic Estimate Impacts
The two buildings seem to be targeting a larger worker base, and have allotted for a significant number of parking spaces.
- Building 1: 559 Parking Spaces
- Building 2: 335 Parking Spaces
894 total parking spaces. This is significantly more than required by zoning, but it also increases the number of cars moving in and out during shift changes.
In the earlier versions of the plans which we shared in a post last year, the main route for the warehouse traffic seemed have a more direct route to Rt 47, positioned close to the Rt 55 exit. If they had went ahead with this access road, the traffic on Rt 41 and Five Points would’ve been substantially less.
That being said, the developers state most traffic will be heading to Rt 55 via the Rt 47 exit and in the new “Rt 41 entrance only” most traffic should move towards the 5 points intersection, and avoid most residential streets. But again, if the landfill access road were built around Kinsley directly to 47, most of the traffic would’ve had almost a clear path to Rt 55.
According to the presenters in the the meeting, they could not come to terms with the landfill owners on the direct-to-47 road placement, and they had to abandon it.
So here’s the kicker for this new access plan
- Peak Hours: 7-9am 4-6pm: 500 new trips in and out per hour
- Tractor trailer volumes. 20 per peak hour. Most are off peak
As stated previously, they say there aren’t any tenants signed on to fully calculate traffic estimates, so they were directed by the NJDOT to analyze other developed (and similar) projects to determine traffic counts, so the presented numbers were estimated.
But an added 500 cars in and out during rush hour? For anyone driving rt 41 in the morning (non-Covid) you already know that road is jammed, and the traffic lights at Good Intent and Cooper are timed so that traffic can back up significantly.
500 cars an hour is a another 8 cars every minute. Every 12 seconds a new car that previously wasn’t on this road at that time, will enter the Rt 41 traffic.
Every. 12. Seconds.
A bit of “nimbism” from me as I live very close, and the nearby Pennsylvania Ave entry to 41 is my main access out of the neighborhood… but regardless of living in the neighborhood or not, adding a car every 12 seconds to the already busy road, just seems… well, let’s move on.
In working with the NJDOT, the developers will be doing updates at 2 intersections.
The developers believe that the updates to the other intersections in the area, will actually improve traffic flow despite the additional traffic. More on that in the rest of the article.
Rt 41 Entrance
Currently Rt 41 is one lane in each direction. While not overly developed, it is a highly traveled road as it is part of the network of roads that connect Rt 47, Rt 55, and in the straight run… Rt 42. Even Washington Twp’s Egg Harbor Road has become a big feeder, especially since it was upgraded to two lanes in each direction for a large chunk of it.
While the State and Developers acknowledge the larger traffic flow, this new development is not requiring the developer to widen Rt 41 the entire one mile distance to 5 points, but instead they will be upgrading the 5 points intersection, the Good Intent intersection, and making better traffic accommodations at the sole entrance to the warehouse project, at Rt 41.
As mentioned previously, the entrance into the warehouse project will be in what is currently woods along Rt 41, and directly across from a small industrial building which currently houses Compass Metal, and previously for years was home to T&A Metal Products. This new entrance will be just past the small Anco Drive road.
To facilitate better traffic flow, Route 41 in this entrance section will be widened to accommodate dedicated center left turn lanes at the intersection. In both directions of Rt 41 traffic will drive on a gradual bulge out to accommodate the center turn lanes.
Now that I am back home looking at the plans, one thing that seems to be missing is a dedicated right-turn lane heading into the warehouse development. Meaning for those traveling from Deptford, they will be sharing that single lane of Rt 41 with traffic just moving through and traffic making a right-turn into the warehouses.
While the developers maintain most traffic will move from the other direction, it seems the flow-through traffic would be less impeded if there were a dedicated right turn lane accommodating several cars to queue at the light. Just a thought
Roadway Updates: 5 Points and Good Intent
With the expectation of additional traffic, and the expected primary traffic pattern to be through the 5 points intersection to 47N (and onto 55), the developers are working with the NJDOT to improve traffic flow in other key areas, as a part of this development.
The Good Intent Road intersection will see some changes. Dedicated turn lane(s). They really didn’t spend much time on Good Intent as it is described as the least impacted.
For the 5-points intersection, they will be widening the intersection’s turns so that traffic has more room to move with additional turn lanes, so traffic can move through faster, and trucks have better angles to navigate.
One example is, if you are traveling on 41 towards the 5 points intersection (say, workers are leaving the warehouse and want to get to Rt 55), currently the turn in front of the Dry Cleaner (in front of Seven Star Diner) is a sharp angular turn and not easy for tractor-trailers to navigate. The developers will be taking a decent size chunk off of that “point” so that the turn is more smooth and rounded. A key goal her is so that trucks can go around the turn without having to make one of those “to turn right, I have to first go left and the make a sharp right”
Another is, those coming from Washington Township on Egg Harbor Rd, will see an even wider roadway at the intersection with a similar “remove the point from right turn to 41 to make it smoother and wider”, and the developer’s depiction shows FOUR lanes at the traffic light… a dedicated left turn lane, two lanes for traffic going straight, and a fourth lane taking advantage of the wider insider curve will be a dedicated right turn lane.
So configuration complexities have been introduced as that same area is already under development for the new Super Wawa, and the realigning of Blackwood-Barnsboro Rd which was already completed, and places the road further away from 5-pts and it now has it’s own new traffic light.
So back to the Egg Harbor “four lanes at the light”… it’s clear that from the reviewed plans and commentary, had the Wawa development not started, the Warehouse developers would’ve been responsible for widening Egg Harbor at the intersection… but the Wawa developers also had plans for widening the road (and adding access for the Wawa). So with that it seems there is still some back and forth going on.
In the meeting the developers commented that the just the prior week they were chatting with the Wawa developer, and reviewing there latest plans. The Warehouse developer did reference the realigning of Blackwood-Barnsboro but I feel they didn’t realize it was already completed and cars were running on it.
So today if you look at that area of Egg Harbor Rd on the right side (facing the traffic light) you can see the road was widened near the new Blackwood-Barnsboro Rd but then tapers back out to connect to the “old” corner. Regardless of who does the work, it seems that they corner and roadway will be pulled back to make room for the extra dedicated right turn lane
So they say these improvements will make things flow better. I wonder though will the State be back in a few years after the warehouse is developed and be forced to widen Route 41 to two lanes in each direction due to the tipping point of the Warehouse project, and maybe it should just be done now (for that one mile) and have the developer kick in on the effort.
Public Commentary, and More on the Traffic
It’s a big project in an area that many hadn’t really considered for this type of development. There are streets of homes along 2 sides of the project, and the streets coming off of Rt 41 shoot in closest to the project. Over the year since this became aware, and the summer (when this presentation was postponed twice), there were many residents complaining about it in town groups and the 42Freeway page.
In the end there were 3 members of the public who spoke, two of them were residents… and one of them was me (and I don’t live directly adjacent to the project). One homeowner who had been communicating with me all summer long… well he wasn’t at the meeting and when I reached out to him afterwards “Oh I sold my house! A variety of reasons but this was the tipping point. We settle next week”
Attorney for an Anco Dr business. An attorney spoke on behalf of one of the businesses located on/around Anco Drive. It seems that business owner had concerns about how the new access road and intersection would impact access to his business. It was clear that the attorney had already been working with the developers, and this was just a conversation to confirm what was already worked out.
Mark Matthews (ME!): As an area resident, I went into the meeting with a positive outlook. No one watches retail and their buildings more than I, and I get that while today Deptford wins heavily with the generated tax dollars from the retail buildings, the entire sector is on shaky ground… and a large project like this is a great tax dollar win that doesn’t increase school populations
And I was happy that the early plans showed an access road directly to Rt 47, which would minimize traffic on Rt 41.
But I was shocked to see that the Rt 47 access road was dropped in the final plans, and all traffic would be to Rt 41. And when the presenter quickly said “500 cars per hour in peak hours”… that really grabbed my attention.
Ironically, the presentation prior to this was the Krispy Kreme at the Deptford mall. That project will have 2 delivery trucks parked onsite for early morning delivery. It felt like there was 10 minutes of conversation from the Planning Board and our Consultant planner regarding the 2 Krispy Kreme trucks…
But having all of the traffic on Rt 41 was the basis of my commentary. I literally called out the disparity of how the TWO Krispy Kreme delivery trucks were discussed for 10 minutes, but really nothing on the Rt 41 impacts. (Not really a knock on the Planning Board team as they do a great job. I get this was not their first time seeing this project so they probably already went through this before the meeting.)
I asked for clarity on the rush hour impacts, to have the expert repeat them. The expert presenter clarified that it’s 500 per hour during peak hours, but said again they expect the most impact to be at 5-points as cars and trucks head to Rt 55.
Based on my question, members of the board become very interactive in the conversation, and one member also asked for details on traffic time impacts at traffic lights. The expert stated at the 5 points intersection that the roadway improvements will actually make traffic flow better, even with the additional traffic
Currently they have “F levels of service” at 5-points. On the east bound approach the delay is over 100 seconds. In the future case, with our mitigation, the through lane and right turn traffic goes down to 30 seconds “C level” and the east-bound left turn lane goes to 55 seconds “E Level”
Township Planer Brian Slaugh asked about benefits of traffic gaps created down at Pennsylvania Ave by having a nearby traffic signal. The road expert confirmed that it would be an improvement for residents trying to access the Rt 41, who will have more opportunity to enter the roadway when core Rt 41 traffic is stopped.
I then rattled off my simple math “500 cars an hour, is about 8 new cars per minute.”
Additional discussion continued to confirm the numbers.
My last point was around the “We don’t know who the tenant is”. I called out “How do we know that the unknown tenant isn’t an Amazon like local delivery warehouse where hundreds of UPS/Amazon style trucks are moving in and out all day long?” I was told that the current town rules state that an Amazon-like “direct to consumer” delivery warehouse was not allowed.
Lastly, a planning board member asked about existing traffic numbers, which according to the expert is about 1,000 cars.
So simply, the warehouse during rush hour will bring a 50% increase in traffic during rush hour. Let’s hope the roadway improvements offset this.
In the end, the developers and town seemed comfortable that even with the additional traffic, that the roadway improvements will offset that additional cars, and potentially make traffic flow better.
Resident (Speaking for her parents): A third member of the public spoke regarding flooding concerns in the neighborhood. There will be significant water retention basins, but given the amount of covered land with buildings and asphalt.
So in the end the project was approved. I’ve sat in a number of these meetings, and I get that most of the details have been worked out long in advance of the presentation. The planning board did jump in on many topics, such as sidewalks, spacing to rt 55. In fact there was a lot of commentary on those aspects which I didn’t call out.
And when the public spoke, the board and planner added in additional comments and questions.
That being said, I feel there are still many pieces of the puzzle still being defined. It’s a large and complex project. There are still questions about the final Route 55 intersection changes. Still details to be worked out with the Wawa developer and their road changes. And a secondary access road through the landfill property for emergency personnel seems to require a lot of additional discussion.
But overall those items don’t change the core of the project. I assume that to sign agreements for tenants they need to know they have full town, State and County approval.
When? I want to say still a few years out? I don’t fully believe they are doing all of this work without someone showing real interest in the project, but even if they have someone in line.. this is a large project requiring approvals from several state agencies and other businesses… I feel this has a ways-to-go before it sees a truck.