Interstate exit at issue in election

October 29, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - It's a hot issue between the two candidates running for the only open supervisor seat in Greene Township in the Nov. 4 election. But it isn't really a factor in the eyes of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Whether or not Exit 7 on Interstate 81 should be built has split the township north of Chambersburg since the state first proposed it in 1987, and the matter has surfaced again in this year's election.

Republican incumbent Paul Ambrose, 60, who led in May's primary election, opposes construction of the exit. His Democratic opponent, Douglas Harbach, 37, is in favor of it.


State Transportation Secretary Bradley Mallory announced three weeks ago that the construction project will go out to bid in April 1999, with work starting that spring and completion scheduled for May 2000.

He said the Exit 7 project, estimated at $8.2 million, is a "go-ahead" subject to approval from state environmental and historical agencies.

"Since 1987 PennDOT has said they plan on building the exit. This has been told directly to Mr. Ambrose who continues, nonetheless, to simply delay the project while our pocketbooks are depleted," said Harbach, vice president of a small business in Chambersburg.

Harbach recently set up two billboards to show the latest figures on public funds sprnt on legal fees to fight the exit. They total $627,507, he said.

The billboards, which state, "Stop the waste! Our Greene Twp. funds spent opposing Exit 7," appear at Walker Road near the proposed Exit 7 interchange and at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Pa. 997.

Ambrose, who teaches urban planning and intergovernment relations at Shippensburg University, said he was elected as a Greene Township supervisor six years ago on a platform opposing the exit.

"I feel I've kept my promise," he said.

Ambrose has been fighting the Exit 7 issue on the basis that the township has been treated unfairly by the state because alternatives were never evaluated and that the decision was made before any environmental impact studies were made.

"I don't think it's a done deal," he said.

Also, the township hasn't had a hike in its real estate taxes for 18 years and no township per-capita tax in over six years, he said. But that would change if the exit at I-81 and Walker Road is built, he said.

There is no public water or sewer service on Walker Road and thousands of dollars would be required for road repairs and renovations, Ambrose said.

The latest attempt to block the project are claims that the northbound entrance ramp of the proposed exit would run through a historical district. The township has paid $300,000 to a Philadelphia attorney to fight the exit on those grounds, Harbach said.

Ambrose said the the law firm in Philadelphia specializes in environmental law, a service that's not available locally.

Harbach argues that the money should be used instead to bring clean water to Siloam Road residents, most of whom drink bottled water because their wells are polluted, he said.

But a survey of the area shows that 60 percent of the residents do not support mandatory water hookups or paying a fee, Ambrose said.

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