Trails, Trains and Traffic Highlights County Transportation Initiatives

The Chester County Planning Commission (CCPC) held its final Landscapes3 event of 2019 titled “Trails, Trains & Traffic” at the West Whiteland Township Building on Wednesday December 4th.  The evening event featured an open house format and slide presentation delivered by the CCPC’s Environment & Infrastructure division staff. The event was attended by 77 people including local residents and members of partner agencies. These included representatives from SEPTA, PennDOT, the Transportation Management Association of Chester County (TMACC) and the Greater Valley Forge TMA.

CCPC Executive Director Brian O’Leary kicked off the event with introductions including Commissioner-elect Josh Maxwell, who expressed great interest in working with CCPC to advance the county’s transportation initiatives to balance both growth and preservation.


Environment & Infrastructure Director Brian Styche started the presentation by discussing how the policies of Landscapes3, specifically the Connect goal, influence the work being performed by CCPC on the entire spectrum of transportation modes in Chester County, including but not limited to trails, public transit, and the roadway network.


The first segment of the presentation addressed the two-year transportation funding cycle that guides transportation projects for the southeastern PA region.  Transportation Planner Eric Quinn summarized the initial step in that process, creation of the CCPC Transportation Improvement Inventory (TII), which tabulates the transportation needs for all 73 Chester County municipalities.  Eric reported that the 2019 TII includes 533 proposed roadway, bridge, bicycle and pedestrian, freight, and transit projects with an estimated total cost of $4.41 Billion.  Eric noted one of the new aspects of this year’s TII will be the transformation of the previous static mapping of TII projects to an online interactive map that will allow for a much more user friendly version.  Brian Styche completed the funding process segment by describing the development of the Transportation Priority Projects Brochure and CCPC’s role in the development of the DVRPC region’s Long Range Plan and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  Because funding is limited, CCPC is directing municipalities to seek additional available funding sources outside of this biennial update process toward project implementation.


Senior Trails & Open Space Planner Rachael Griffith presented the status of county trails activity highlighting the Landscapes3 recommendation of advancing development of the Circuit, Greater Philadelphia’s regional trail network.  Rachael provided updates on planned 2020 construction activities for both the Schuylkill River Trail and Chester Valley Trail (CVT), as well as efforts for advancing the Chester Valley Trail westward through the county.  Rachael explained that the CVT will connect with Lancaster County’s Enola Low Grade Trail outside of the Borough of Atglen and be part of the Schuylkill to Susquehanna Greenway trail alignment that could connect the cities of Harrisburg and Philadelphia.


Rachael also provided updates on a short extension of the Struble Trail and feasibility studies regarding the proposed Devault and Warner Spur Trails.  Rachael concluded with an announcement of CCPC’s Southern Chester County Circuit Trail Feasibility Study, a project recommended by Landscapes3 that recently received an award from DVRPC’s Regional Trails Program funded by the William Penn Foundation that will begin in January 2020.


Transportation Planner Brian Donovan delivered the next two segments of the presentation starting with an overview of CCPC’s current Active Transportation Inventory (ATI) project, which analyzes municipal planning for sidewalks, walkways, trails, and better connections to transit.  The ATI is examining comprehensive plans, zoning and subdivision/land development ordinances, and other applicable municipal documents for regulations and/or design standards that would require active transportation for all 73 Chester County municipalities.  Final products of the ATI will include a countywide summary report, individual municipal reports, an improved county trails mapping database, and additional planning tools to be published on the CCPC website.  The ATI will be complete in June 2020.


Brian Donovan continued with an overview of the proposed and ongoing Keystone Corridor improvements and public transit enhancements that are following the policies of Landscapes3.  These projects include the current planning work being done by DVRPC and SEPTA for the Devon Station; recent completion of the phase one improvements and future roadway work at the Paoli Station; findings from the East Whiteland Station Feasibility Study recently completed by DVRPC; soon to be completed improvements at the Exton SEPTA/Amtrak Station; plans for the Downingtown SEPTA/Amtrak Station; plans for the new Coatesville Amtrak Station that will include new SEPTA service once complete; and planned improvements to be completed around the Parkesburg Amtrak Station.  Brian Donovan concluded with summaries of other transit projects recommended in Landscapes3 including the return of rail service to both West Chester and Phoenixville as well as enhanced bus service along West Chester Pike.


Brian Styche concluded the presentation with an overview of how the CCPC has worked with planning partners towards reducing congestion and enhancing safety within Chester County’s major roadway network.  These projects include the Phoenixville Region Multimodal Transportation Study completed in June 2018; the US 202 Section 100 Operations Analysis working with DVRPC; and the major reconstruction roadway projects for US 1 and the US 30 Coatesville/Downingtown Bypass.


Many of the documents and planning efforts referenced in the presentation are available online.  The Planning Commission would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at West Whiteland Township for being wonderful hosts in such a great facility and helping us work through the minor technical issue experienced during the presentation.