How we “Connect” in Chester County

In order to maintain safe and efficient growth for our communities now and into the future, evolving the ways in which we connect becomes essential. From our drive to work or the grocery store, to our access to multi-use trails and clean energy networks – many of these systems play an important role in our lives each day. While 2020 was a unique year and proved, more than ever, that our ability to adapt to the needs of our communities is integral, 2019 saw a normal and rather successful year in terms of projects and initiatives.

In spring of 2019, the Chester County Commissioners awarded Coatesville a $1-million grant for a parking garage at the train station, which is also expected to serve regional rail train service as well as the current Amtrak service. Restoration of SEPTA service to Coatesville would make it the final stop on the Paoli/Thorndale rail line. The project is estimated to take three years to complete, and will include a new station, parking, and other amenities when finished.

Also in spring of 2019, West Whiteland Township completed the multi-phase Exton Train Station reconstruction project, including the construction of a new station building with restrooms for customers, sheltered passenger waiting areas, ADA accessible ramps and amenities, and additional parking. In 2020, a new pathway connecting the station to the Chester Valley Trail (located at Commerce Drive) was completed, as well as improvements to the crossing of Route 100 in order to provide pedestrians with easier access to the station.

In September of 2019, more rail connections were completed across the county, as Amtrak and SEPTA wrapped up the Paoli Station Accessibility Improvements Project – a process which began in 2016. The project upgraded the 66-year old station with a new platform, elevators, stairs and ramps, a pedestrian overpass, parking lot improvements, and ADA enhancements. Additionally, the outbound wooden canopy, which was part of the late 19th-century station, was restored as a cover for new bicycle parking facilities.

Lastly, in December of 2019, the Chester County Planning Commission held the “Trails, Trains & Traffic” annual transportation event, which was attended by more than 70 residents, stakeholders, and local transportation professionals. In 2020, the event was transitioned to a virtual format due to COVID-19, welcoming more than 80 attendees for an overview of the county’s Active Transportation Inventory during the “Bicycles, Pedestrians, and Transit” webinar in mid-September.

“We’re thrilled to see so many of our communities taking action to enhance their connections,” commented Tim Phelps, Executive Director of the Transportation Management Association of Chester County (TMACC). “As noted in Landscapes3, it’s these systems and connections which help to provide a stable foundation for economic growth and community safety here in Chester County.”

We look forward to seeing the completion of these ongoing projects – as well as many future projects to come! To learn more about the way we connect in Chester County, as well as the other five goals found in Landscapes3 (the county’s comprehensive plan), visit https://chescoplanning.org/Landscapes3/6-SuccessStories.cfm.

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