This past September 30, the Chester County Planning Commission hosted a public transportation meeting, titled “Bicycles, Pedestrians & Transit,” which was a follow up to the “Trails, Trains, and Traffic” meeting held last December.
During this year’s meeting, the Planning Commission presented the results of the county’s Active Transportation Inventory, as well as transportation updates and other important projects happening around the county. All three County Commissioners’ attended the meeting, as well as 72 others, which took place via Zoom on a Wednesday evening.
Commissioners’ Chair, Marian Moskowitz, kicked off the meeting by presenting the need for a multimodal transportation system throughout the county, noting the importance of sidewalks in our region’s growing areas. “The public transit system is a critical element that we are looking to expand throughout Chester County, especially in our growth areas,” Moskowitz noted. “While sidewalks already exist throughout our boroughs, we are looking to provide more sidewalk connections to, and complete the sidewalk connections within, our growing suburbs.”
Following her remarks was Commissioner Josh Maxwell, who touched on the importance of the county’s trail network system. “In addition to building our sidewalk connections, we will continue to build up our trails network,” Maxwell stated. “Chester County has seen greater use in trails from people of all ages. Interest in trails began before the COVID-19 pandemic, but usage has significantly increased during the pandemic.”
Commissioner Michelle Kichline discussed the need for enhancing the county’s public transportation system, including amenities such as bus stops and shelters as well. “We are continuing to advocate for expanding the county’s public transit services,” said Kichline. “This topic is very important to us as noted in all of the studies and input that led to the creation of Landscapes3.”
The Planning Commission’s Environment and Infrastructure Director, Brian Styche, led the meeting with special topics presented by Transportation Planners, Eric Quinn and Brian Donovan, as well as Trails and Open Space Planner, Rachael Griffith. Question and answer sessions followed each of the presentations.
“Thank you to all of our partners and staff that helped prepare this inventory and this meeting. This was truly an effort of the entire Planning Commission, as well as our partners and members of the audience who have contributed in order to to help us move forward with improving the county’s active transportation network,” Styche commented.
Eric Quinn and Brian Donovan provided an overview of the Active Transportation Inventory, including why and how it was produced, as well as the benefits to completing such a project. “Chester County has an encouraging amount of active transportation facilities in certain areas already, and there’s interest in seeing these areas connected and expanded,” Quinn noted.
Some benefits to these expansions include community health initiatives, multimodal options, aging in place, and other economic factors like housing and property value.
Quinn also presented the county’s “work products” in the ATI, which included a county-wide summary report, 73 individual municipal reports, GIS trail mapping, and active transportation eTools (an online resource).
Donovan discussed the project’s partial funding through the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation and Community Development Initiative (TCDI), as well as some ways in which these transportation goals can be achieved, and the report’s findings compared to the county as a whole.
“We found that nearly 92% of all Chester County’s municipalities have active transportation goals in their comprehensive plan, which demonstrates that there’s an interest in active transportation at the municipal level,” commented Donovan. “The Planning Commission helps municipalities to achieve these goals in a number of different ways, such as through land use developments and ordinance amendments.”
Rachael Griffith followed with an update on the trail development in Chester County. This included the county’s current and planned trails, an increase in trail usage, and the status of trails via the new Circuit Trails Map.
“Since COVID-19, everyone has been trying to get outside more, and trails are a great way for people to do that,” Griffith noted. “The County is really dedicated to building out the Circuit Trail network so that there are more facilities to accommodate the growing trail usage.”
Brian Styche concluded the meeting with an overview of public transit and highway projects around the region, including the recently opened trail connection between the Chester Valley Trail and Exton Train Station, the Coatesville SEPTA/Amtrak Station improvements, US 1 Reconstruction, and an update on the Downingtown Area Transportation Study.
To learn more about the ATI and other transportation initiatives happening in Chester County, visit https://chescoplanning.org/transportation/transportation.cfm.