The average trail project takes 10-14 years to move from an idea to an on-the-ground pathway. Complex planning efforts, coordination among a network of changing stakeholders, and the task of acquiring the necessary funding to implement these projects all add time to a project’s timeline. However, it has been found that projects with increased coordination at both the local and county level often progress at a faster rate due to the coalition of support. Furthermore, these coordinated projects are often prioritized and score higher when soliciting grant funding on the state and national stages.
With this in mind, SGP has been working with the SEDA-COG and Lycoming County Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs) for the last two years to develop the Middle Susquehanna Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Middle Susquehanna Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which is projected to be released in June 2019.
The Advisory Committee brought together county planners, community representatives, and bike/ped interest groups to evaluate the impediments to walking and biking within the region, as well as to identify the bicycle and pedestrian facilities needed at the community and regional level to help organized bike/ped projects secure funding.
The end result will be a more coordinated effort to build bike/ped infrastructure within the Middle Susquehanna Region.
Most communities within the region were originally built with bicycling and walking in mind. Communities were constructed so that residents could easily walk or bike across town, but as cars gained in popularity and communities expanded, automotive infrastructure took precedence over bike/ped transportation. The result was a menagerie of infrastructure that leaned to the side of the motorist.
However, there is still hope as most of the region’s communities still maintain their original layouts, and with some key updates and redesigns could place pedestrians and bikes on equal footing with vehicular traffic. These bike/ped projects in return will provide numerous benefits to residents and visitors including new healthy living opportunities, economic development, environmental benefits, and even increased property values. The result will be more attractive and vibrant places to live, work, and explore.
Over the last year, public response to the study was gathered during a series of public open houses. During these open houses, maps displaying the region and surveys were utilized to collect data and public feedback. Topics of discussion were centered around questions that would establish the current state and use of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, evaluate the current level of bicycle and pedestrian activity, and determine the public’s perception and opinions on bicycling and walking in the study area.
People want to live and work in places that are walkable and bike-able, and this plan pushes the Greenway one step closer to our vision for a continuous 500-mile corridor of land and water trails along the Susquehanna River. Once finished, the plan will make these trail projects eligible for PennDOT funding. This extra support and valuable partnership will be an asset to improving community health and revitalization through bike and pedestrian projects.