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New I-81 exit on borough officials' wish list for state

January 16, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Removing an old dam and building a new Interstate 81 exit were among the items on a wish list Chambersburg representatives presented to a panel of state economic development officials Wednesday, according to Borough Council President William F. McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, Borough Manager Eric Oyer, Downtown Chambersburg Inc. Executive Director Paul Cullinane and Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross met with the panel in Harrisburg, Pa., presenting a list of housing, utilities, transportation and technology projects.

"Unless there is another exit on I-81 constructed south of Chambersburg, the southeast area of the borough will become gridlocked," McLaughlin told the panel, according to a copy of his presentation. He said it should be built near mile marker 12 at Guilford Springs Road to relieve congestion at Exit 14, Wayne Avenue and Pa. 316 and open up a new industrial corridor for development over the next 30 years.


McLaughlin estimated the interchange and extension of water and sewer lines could cost more than $25 million.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation last month opened bids for the long-delayed Exit 17 five miles north of the site. An opponent of that exit, former Greene Township Supervisor Paul Ambrose, suggested Thursday the $15.7 million for it be used instead for Exit 12.

"Rather than waste taxpayers' money on a new interchange, just move that one down there," he said.

The list includes $6 million to breach the Birch Run dam. Oyer said that includes reclamation of Birch Run, a new sedimentation pond and improvements to the treatment plant.

McLaughlin said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the dam removed. "Fortunately, most of it is dirt," but the concrete spillway also has to be removed, he said.

Other projects include:

  • $2 million to realign West Washington Street and put a traffic signal at West Queen Street in the area of Southgate Shopping Center. The project might encourage the owners to redevelop the mostly empty shopping center, McLaughlin said.

  • $1.3 million for sewer, water and gas service to an undeveloped area of about 100 acres in the borough's south end.

  • $1 million to rebuild the aging Falling Spring sewer interceptor line.

  • $250,000 for a wireless mobile broadband network to tie together communications systems for the police, fire and rescue and utility departments.

  • $2 million for a power line communications system to transmit Internet data over borough-owned power lines. Oyer said the new technology would be far less expensive than stringing fiber optic cable.

McLaughlin also told the panel the borough wants to stimulate the rehabilitation of housing and construction of affordable homes. Half the housing units in Chambersburg are rentals and 40 percent were built prior to 1940.

The panel included Larry Segal of the Governor's Office of Housing and Community Relations and representatives of the Department of Community and Economic Development and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The panel has heard similar presentations from the state's counties, cities and larger boroughs.

"We threw out ideas and they gave us ideas about how we could go about getting money to get some of these things done," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said he does not expect the state to fund all the projects, but some funding could be available through the state's capital budget and a three-year, $2 billion economic stimulus package proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell.

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