Scottdale, Smithton on radar for improved transportation plan
A Westmoreland County group has money to explore new ways of connecting Smithton and Scottdale.
Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County will use a $25,000 grant to develop a transportation plan that envisions new or improved pedestrian, bicycle and public transit systems between and within the two communities.
Known as an Active Transportation Plan, it will take into account the communities’ proximity to Jacobs Creek, the Youghiogheny River, the Great Allegheny Passage and other connectors, said Barb Hauge, landscape architect with Thomas R. Harley Architects of Indiana.
Hauge was a consultant to Smart Growth Partnership on the grant application.
“The plan may suggest developing a new trail or a new kayak launching area. It may be a wide shoulder. We may use existing infrastructure in some cases,” Hauge said. “There’s different ways the plan can go — it just depends on what the communities feel is most important.”
The funding comes from the WalkWorks program, a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. WalkWorks projects aim to get people more active by giving them safer places to walk, ride bikes and recreate.
“Activity-friendly routes connected to everyday destinations can make it safe and convenient for people of all abilities to walk, bike or wheel. Planning healthy, compact, complete communities is needed to support active transportation,” said Carol L. Reichbaum, director of WalkWorks at the Pitt Center for Public Health Practice.
The transportation plan for Scottdale and Smithton must be completed by October 2020. The plan then will be used by the communities to apply for larger implementation grants, Hauge said.
“The exact scope of the project will be teased out over the next 12 months,” said John Turack, executive director of Smart Growth Partnership.
The plan also calls for the development of a Complete Streets policy that will look at ways to makes streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities and people who use public transportation, according to the grant application.
“The plan and the policy for these two communities we want to be a blueprint for other rural communities in Westmoreland County,” Hauge said.
Both Smithton and Scottdale have identified improved multi-modal transportation as a priority, Turack said.
Smithton has a trail head along the Great Allegheny Passage, but the path from the trail head to town includes a bridge on Route 981 and an active rail line, with no sidewalks.
“They want to be a better trail town,” Turack said. “They’re ripe for better planning to connect people to the trail.”
Smart Growth Partnership, a nonprofit affiliated with Penn State Extension, will guide the planning process and engage leaders and groups from both communities to be involved in the process.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .