News

Transportation funding bill could fund bridge for equestrian riders

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 16, 2014 4:32 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- The much-discussed transportation funding bill increases spending on roads and bridges by more than $1 billion a year, but projects with bike paths, sidewalks or other features will also get a boost.

It's called the Multimodal Transportation Fund, and about $97 million will be available annually for projects like sidewalk improvements, connections between different public transportation options, like rail and bus, and upgrades to airports.

The first deadline for applications came and went at the end of June.

North Hopewell Township in York County is one of the municipalities trying to win funding for three bridges that primarily serve equestrian riders.

"It's very critical to a small municipality like ours. We don't have a large budget. We have a $750,000 annual budget to run the entire township. That's all the road work, all the salaries, the police department everything," says Township Engineer Jason Snyder. He says without the program, they would have to save for years to try to replace the structure. Heavy rains this spring damaged the bridges, and 2 are in imminent danger of collapse. Replacing the bridges would cost about $460,000, of which $250,000 would come from the state.

"I think it's a great thing. Engineers do need to think a little differently. We can't build 40 foot wide bridges to accomodate two 12 foot lanes and two 8 foot shoulders, for every bridge," says Snyder.

PennDOT declined to provide a list of municipalities competing for the grants, but could announce the selected projects by December. But a spokesperson says the program is designed to create line items for a number of categories, where in the past, money would have to come out of PennDOT's general fund. As to whether the proportion of funding for projects like these have increased because of Act 89 (the transportation funding bill), spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick says that's difficult to determine because of how projects were funded in the past.

In York County, Spring Grove Borough, the city of York, and York Township also applied for the grants, according to the York County Planning office.

Penn Township in Lancaster County is one of the few Lancaster County communities to apply for the money. Its $1.677 million project would re-align the entrance to the Mannheim Shopping Center, create turn lanes, and build sidewalks (that's the multimodal piece).

In Cumberland County, Director of Planning Kirk Stoner says 5 projects coordinated with his office on applications: East Pennsboro Township, Shippensburg Investors, Shippensburg University, South Middleton Township, and Lower Allen Township. Proposals included an internal road, realigning some roads near the I-81 Commerce Park, an access road for a conference center, and sidewalks and a better bus stop at the Capital City Mall. He says all offered plans consistent with the Cumberland County Comprehensive Plan.

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