A significant project that broke ground in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County this July highlighted how partnerships and cooperation foster success.
The project – known as the Walnut Street Extension – will alleviate congestion, improve safety and support economic development by extending Walnut Street on alignment with a section of PennDOT right-of-way known locally as the Goat Path.
The property on which Goat Path is located was acquired decades ago by the department for a new roadway, but public opposition and funding issues at the time resulted in those plans being shelved. The right- of- way became noted as a place local farmers grazed their livestock – thus the nickname.
Times change, however, and the current project has plenty of support. The groundbreaking ceremony was held just yards from the proposed new roadway alignment. In homage to its nickname, event organizers brought in several goats, none of whom appeared all that impressed with the festivities. They grazed uninterested as dignitaries discussed the impacts the project will have in the region. And the impacts – positive – will be significant.
The project will extend the street 1.2 miles as a two-lane road connecting a mixed-use commercial and residential development to Route 30. It includes a multimodal component by extending the Greater Lancaster Heritage Pathway, a paved bicycle and pedestrian trail just to the east of the new road.
The project is expected to ease congestion on and around nearby Greenfield Road, which runs parallel and adjacent to the proposed roadway. An estimated 500 to 600 vehicles per hour are expected to be diverted from the Greenfield Road corridor during peak hours.
Project sponsor High Real Estate Group LLC (HREG) of Lancaster leveraged $14.8 million in state transportation funds, plus a $3 million DCED grant to pay for the nearly $22 million project.
HREG officials gave kudos to PennDOT and other partners for their support and cooperation, without which the project was unlikely to have gotten off the ground. Of particular note was the support of Acting Deputy Secretary for Administration Mike Keiser, P.E., who was district executive when the new project was proposed. High officials said Mike's support was a key factor in moving the project forward.
"The Walnut Street Extension Project demonstrates the potential when government, the private sector and local residents work together to solve a transportation-safety issue while preserving precious farmland, creating jobs and ensuring recreational opportunities for county residents and visitors," said Mark Fitzgerald, president and COO, High Real Estate Group LLC. "This project makes Lancaster County more vibrant and more livable through smart growth within a modern, multimodal transportation system. I want to thank all the stakeholders, in particular East Lampeter Township and PennDOT, for all their hard work over a three-year period to make this project happen."
"PennDOT understands that community support and collaboration equal success when it comes to transportation projects. This long-awaited improvement will ease congestion, promote economic growth and improve multimodal connectivity in the region," said Mike Keiser. "PennDOT is proud to be a partner in advancing this worthy project."