Second drive-thru lane could help traffic at State College’s Chick-fil-A

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The owner of Chick-fil-A stands in the parking lot to speak with customers as Patton Township Police monitor and verbalize those who turned left from North Atherton Street into the property on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

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To address safety concerns and accommodate more cars, Chick-fil-A has submitted plans to add a second drive-thru lane to its North Atherton location, where traffic jams are known to be an issue not only in its parking lot, but also to spread. in the street.

Over the summer, Chick-fil-A conducted a traffic study, Doug Wolfe, of Chick-fil-A Corporate, said during Patton Township Supervisors Meeting Wednesday. This study identified that they needed to increase the capacity to stack cars on site and accommodate no less than 24 cars in its drive-thru queue, which runs from the checkpoint to the parking lot entrance.

A site plan has been designed with dual traffic lanes all around the site, accommodating approximately 45 cars.

“What this allows us to do is take these cars off public roads, bring them to our site, and then queue them up and get them ready to place their orders,” Wolfe said. .

They offer a two-way drive-thru as well as a face-to-face control awning. Instead of one person placing an order in a speaker box, there would be two speaker boxes. During busy times, four to six Chick-fil-A employees may also be outside taking orders with iPads, he said.

Along with other models, Wolfe said the two drive-thru lanes will eventually merge into one lane for meal pickup, but this plan does not incorporate that. Instead, the two lanes will continue around the building and a sliding door will be installed for a meal distribution area. There, instead of one person getting their meal at a time, between four and six Chick-fil-A employees can be at the drive-thru door and use a crosswalk to deliver meals to the cars.

Wolfe said that each year Chick-fil-A completes about 15-20 “reinvestment projects.” The North Atherton Street location was chosen because of its “high volume and the need for additional ordering and production capacity,” he said.

“We have also heard concerns from the community. We understand the security issues that we have in this location and a lot of that has been built into the design that we have, and that sort of explains some of the reasons we will be asking for deviations to be able to execute our primary strategy for this reinvestment plan, ”Wolfe said.

There would be three phases: site improvements (adding the second drive-thru lane and increasing ordering capacity), kitchen capacity improvements (aimed at increasing production capacity and service speed) and brand image refresh (updated interior finishes, seats and signage).

Supervisor Anita Thies asked what, if anything, Chick-fil-A could do to educate her customers not to turn left into the restaurant parking lot. Supervisors passed an ordinance in August 2020 that prohibits left turns outside the parking lot. There are also township and state Department of Transportation signs that prohibit left turns in the parking lot. Thies said the challenge is for people to wait on Atherton and turn left into the parking lot.

In November alone, the Patton Township Police Department issued 58 warnings to drivers who made an illegal left turn there, Police Chief Tyler Jolley said.

Wolfe said that with the branding refresh, he would be prepared to put up “no left turn” signage for customers leaving the site. Thies suggested that Chick-fil-A also work with Google Maps and Apple Maps to remove the ability to make that left turn, which Wolfe said he would look into further.

And after?

Chick-fil-A has submitted a waiver request to the Township of Patton Zoning Hearing Board and a hearing is scheduled for December 15.

According to the Patton Township Supervisors Meeting, clearances are requested for side and backyard setbacks for canopy structures on portions of the passageways, and for backyard screening requirements. agenda.

Once the Zoning Hearing Panel makes a decision, Chick-fil-A can submit plans to the Engineering, Planning and Zoning Department for review and comment, the agenda says. Once staff have reviewed the plans for compliance with zoning and land use planning by-laws, the Planning Commission review and make a recommendation to supervisors.

Wolfe said he hoped the restaurant would be under construction by midsummer, which would mean the restaurant would be closed for about 10 weeks.

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The site plan for Chick-fil-A on North Atherton Street, State College includes the addition of a second drive-thru lane and awnings. Chick-fil-A Screenshot

Halie Kines reports on local government for the Center Daily Times. She grew up in Penns Valley and graduated from Penn State.

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