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Chambersburg Council weighs in on land projects

November 09, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Planning for the extension of Norland Avenue and the construction of Exit 17 has been under way for years, but much of the discussion at Monday night's Chambersburg Borough Council meeting was about the impact those projects will have on Walker Road, the road to which they both connect.

Construction of Exit 17 is under way and the extension of Norland Avenue from the entrance of Summit Health Center to Walker Road is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2005. Both are expected to increase traffic on Walker, which runs north and south parallel to I-81.

"What we're doing is doing a great job with Norland Avenue and making Walker Road a mess," said Mayor Thomas Newcomer.

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Matthew Best of the Gannet Fleming engineering firm said Norland Avenue will, over the course of 20 years, reach its design capacity of 18,000 vehicles a day, with about 40 percent of that coming off Exit 17 to the north and 30 percent coming off U.S. 30 from the south. Walker Road, however, will remain two lanes with improvements limited primarily to widening the shoulders and repaving the road.

"The last major road we built in the borough was Orchard Road and it reached its design capacity on about the third day," said Council President William McLaughlin.

Norland will be extended about three-quarters of a mile and have four lanes separated by a grass median, Best said. The borough received $2.4 million in federal grants to extend the road and another $1.25 million in state funds to extend sewer, water, gas and electric lines, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said.

Local matching funds for the grants are being paid by the developers, Oyer said.

The road will pass through about 200 acres of undeveloped land in the borough's North End known as the Gabler Tract. Palisades Development, a group based in Cabin John, Md., also reviewed its conceptual plan Monday night for developing the property as a mixture of commercial, residential and professional office sites.

Several council members said they were concerned there are no plans for turn lanes on Walker to serve the entrances of future businesses and the proposed Gateway Avenue that would run northwest from Walker to Norland.

"If you don't have turn lanes, you're designing a road for accidents," Councilman Ken Gill said.

Councilman John Redding asked who would be responsible for ensuring there are turn lanes to help prevent traffic backing up on Walker Road.

"That will be between the borough and the developer," Oyer said.

"It will be a real mess if we don't address it now," Redding said.

Councilman Allen Coffman asked if either Walker Road or Gateway Avenue are designed to handle 80,000-pound tractor-trailers that would make deliveries to the proposed sites for Crest Ford, Gateway Center and other businesses that would front Walker Road. Borough officials and the developers did not have an immediate answer to the question.

Council Vice President Robert Wareham suggested vehicle weight limits could be posted for Walker Road, although that could mean trucks would have to come through town to reach the Gabler Tract by another route.

The council took no action on subdivision and land development plans for portions of the Gabler Tract that were reviewed Monday night. Planning Director Phil Wolgemuth was instructed to have borough staff and the developers continue discussions on the concerns raised by the council.

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