Saturday, June 26, 2004

"PennDOT blocks walkway plans:

Ah the best laid plans of mice and men. FHWA Guidelines and the PennDOT statewide bicycle pedestrian plan call for sidewalks. It appears that some within the bureacracy still think its the Pennsylvania Department of Highways.

Blame Congress for not giving the FHWA any power to enforce bicycle pedestrian accommodations in TEA-21 law. Blame PennDOT administration for making the District Bike/Ped coordinators "part time/end of the day" type positions, blame PennDOT's culture for thwarting the efforts of well intentioned planners and engineers who want to do the right thing.

Here is a great example of what I am talking about, check out the roadblocks that PennDOT put up on a worthwhile path project in South Central PA.

By Kate Andrews The Record Herald

WAYNESBORO - A sidewalk along Route 16 that would connect the Waynesboro and Wayne Heights malls faces more delays.

Construction on the Buchanan Trail Pedestrian Walkway, which has been in the works for nearly five years, was scheduled to start this summer but had to be delayed when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation upped the price tag of the project.
State Sen. Terry Punt said PennDOT inspected the site in December and decided that state regulations require the guardrail be taken out and curbing, gutters and storm drains be installed.

'It drove the cost up an extra $120,000 that I didn't have budgeted for and we don't have the money for,' said Punt, who had secured a $325,000 grant for the project.
PennDOT also charged a $60,000 inspection fee.

'It's frustrating to have a project as important as this be delayed because there was a change in the concept after all the appropriate PennDOT people became involved,' Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

'They changed the project to a city sidewalk instead of a country walkway,' he noted.
Punt called the inspection fee 'ludicrous' and argued that taking out the guardrail will not only be more expensive, but possibly more dangerous.

Punt said he is in talks with PennDOT and is hopeful they can work the situation out. If not, he will seek more funding.

'The critical issue for me is taking down the guardrail,' he said. 'I don't think that is wise, looking at pedestrian safety out there. Without the guide rail, I don't know if we're creating a more unsafe situation.'

The purpose of the sidewalk is to make it safer to walk between the Waynesboro Mall and Welty Road" Punt said he has seen many people walking along the shoulder of Route 16 and is afraid they will be struck by a vehicle.

He added that he once nearly hit a woman with two children and a baby stroller on Beck's Curve.

"I had to swing out into the other lane to avoid hitting them," he said. "There was a car about six seconds away that I avoided hitting head-on."


Spearheaded by Washington Township officials, the sidewalk first was proposed in October 1999.

Getting the sidewalk plans in place hasn't been easy.

Township officials wanted the walkway to run along the south side of Route 16, but Renfrew Committee Inc. and Waynesboro officials balked at having the sidewalk run through the park. An agreement was eventually worked out.

It also took Waynesboro Borough Council several months to approve the location of the path, but it eventually agreed with the township on the sidewalk's path in December 2002.

In the intervening year and a half, the sidewalk was designed, and all environmental clearances have been obtained, Christopher said