If you are trail enthusiast, resident, business owner, or municipal official who has an interest in the popular Chester Valley Trail, please attend a public meeting about a plan to extend the trail westward on Thursday, March 1 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at The Point Youth Center in Parkesburg, Pa.
After over seven months of existing conditions analysis, stakeholder meetings, public engagement, and fieldwork, the Chester County Planning Commission has developed a series of potential alignment alternatives for extending the Chester Valley Trail westward to the Lancaster County line. The project team is conducting the upcoming public meeting to get feedback on these alignment alternatives.
When complete, this 14-plus mile route will be part of a continuous multi-use trail between Harrisburg and Philadelphia; however, it will be one of the only sections of the trail that does not follow an abandoned or inactive rail corridor or old canal. With no specified route to follow, this makes its planning challenging. To assess the strengths, weaknesses, and overall feasibility of each alignment alternative, the project team uses the following criteria:
- Safety– Alignment alternatives that minimize trail users’ interaction with vehicular traffic are prioritized.
- Continuity– The goal of the plan is to determine a route for a continuous multi-use trail to be developed. A multi-use trail is at least 8 feet wide, paved or a similar hard surface, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible. Developing this type of trail may not be feasible in some locations along the route due to constraints like steep slopes or narrow roadways.
- Connectivity– Members of the public have identified many destinations that they would like to be accessible by trail. The more destinations the trail can link, the more viable the trail becomes as a transportation route for local trips.
- User Experience– The environment through which the trails pass plays a big role in a trail user’s decision to return to the trail. The project team will work to strike a balance between routing the trail that will provide both scenery that captures Chester County’s strong sense of place, as well as local business districts that feature amenities for trail users.
- Impacts to Sensitive Land– This could include both privately-owned land, as well as land that is better left undisturbed, such as wetlands and other sensitive habitats and those with important historic resources.
- Economic Development Potential– There is a growing portfolio of trails nationwide that have proven to be significant drivers of economic development for both cities and rural villages. Since this trail will likely pass near or through the central business districts of several boroughs and Chester County’s only city (Coatesville), the route and design of the trail will provide safe and inviting access into commercial districts from the trail.
Please join the Planning Commission at the public meeting on March 1 at this critical juncture in the project. This will be the last public meeting before the draft report is released later this year, and your feedback on the potential alignments plays an important role in determining the recommended alignment. Register for the meeting.