East Pennsboro Township officials said construction of a walkway over East Penn Drive could start in October, but apparently didn’t
By Jenelle Dulack
Knightly News Reporter
Since 2017, East Pennsboro Township officials have promised residents a pedestrian bridge over East Penn Drive to connect Adams Ricci Park’s halves, and township leaders had hoped the start of this autumn would mark the beginning of construction.
Fall arrived in late September, but no signs of work have sprung up at the popular park near the township’s center.
And township officials have not responded to several recent requests for comment.
East Pennsboro received a $900,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Finance Authority in June 2017 to build a footbridge to connect sections of the park, which is cleaved by East Penn Drive, a road that becomes quite busy at times, especially during weekday rush hours and on weekends when people drive to the park.
According to The Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., the proposal stated that the project aimed to develop and connect existing trails and traffic signals, and the installation of turn lanes.
The organization also noted the project “will create 227 construction jobs, with an additional 262 jobs created as a result of the commercial, retail, medical and office component.”
Although this sounded promising, no construction has occurred since the township received the grant. There were no public notifications to accompany the silence.
That silence broke this June.
Earlier this year
In the summer’s quarterly newsletter, East Pennsboro officials announced, for the second time, the construction of the pedestrian bridge, mentioning a funding consideration from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnerships Program, and the Department of Community and Economic Development Greenways Trails and Recreation Program.
This time, the asking price was triple the original block grant amount, now up to $2.8 million. So, the sum should be $3.7 million, correct? The price was likely increased due to annual funding, which allowed for a heftier budget.
The newsletter never addressed the original grant, which was the kick-start to the project, and failed to note the other promises missing from the construction agenda. Now, only the bridge remains a part of the project, with all other aspects having been voided from the concept.
This summer, township board of commissioners President George Tyson, said the reason for this is that contractors who had originally signed onto the project dropped out of the deal for unexplained reasons, and, so, the price fell.
But Tyson pointed to PennDOT’s approval procedures and the lengthy design process to ensure the bridge is accessible and aesthetically pleasing as the primary causes for the project being on hold.
It seemed, in the summer, that with approval from all involved agencies and organizations, the construction of the bridge was likely to start in September or October.
That would mark the end of a five-year long waiting period, so long as the construction occurs on schedule.
But the project seems to remain on hold.
No township official returned recent inquiries about why.
Dulack is president of The Knightly News Media Club @ Central Penn College.
Have a comment or a story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.
Edited by club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.