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HomePA Route 23 EIS

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Frequently Asked Questions

 PROCESS

1. Why is another study necessary? What happened to the information developed in the earlier studies? Why not use the money spent on this study to build the road instead? Why spend the effort looking for a new answer, what could have changed?

2. How much will this study cost? What was spent on previous projects?

3. We need relief now. When is this going to be finished?

4. What is the decision making process? Who will make the final decision? When will the decision be made?

5 .What Resource Agencies will PENNDOT and LCPC be consulting with as they follow the 10 Step Process and NEPA?

6. How can the people make their voice heard? Will public opinion carry as much weight as the politicians?

7. We know the Amish are reluctant to participate in public forums; how are their concerns going to be considered?

 TRAFFIC

1. What is wrong with taking X minutes to get from location A to B? That does not seem like a big enough problem to warrant a new road.

2. Many trucks use Route 23 as a way to avoid paying the toll on the Turnpike. Will this be taken into consideration in the study?

3. How are traffic signals coordinated?

4. How is the quality of traffic flow on a roadway with traffic signals measured?

5. What factors affect the performance of coordinated traffic signals?

6. What are the limitations of traffic signal coordination?

7. Can signal interconnection improve congestion on PA 23 in the long term?

 RESOURCES

1. Where can I get copies of the study maps?

2. Why is farming (Lancaster's most important "industry") not considered along with other industries in assessing business needs and impacts?

3. Tourism is important to Lancaster's economy. Tourism depends on preserving the Plain Sect culture. At the same time, tourism also depends on adequate facilities (in this case, roads) to get the tourists to the "sites." But the very building of those facilities destroys the resource on which the tourism depends.

 LAND USE

1. Land use controls are too open to political pressures; they are not a sure way of controlling development.

2. Aren't some of the Amish leaving the county and selling their land to developers?

3. How will the Urban Growth Boundaries be incorporated into this study? Are current Land Use practices following the UGB's?

OUTCOME

1. Finish the Goat Path; it's the obvious answer.

2. If the Goat Path is not finished, will the land be returned to the farmers?

3. Why do we need a new road? Building a new road will only lead to more development, which leads to more demands for services, which leads to more development which leads to the need for more roads.

4. Will improvements to Route 23 be part of the outcome, even if there is another new road built?

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PROCESS

Back to Top 1. Why is another study necessary? What happened to the information developed in the earlier studies? Why not use the money spent on this study to build the road instead? Why spend the effort looking for a new answer, what could have changed?

Earlier studies of Route 23 began in the 1960's and eventually resulted in a by-pass designed to extend from US 30 to New Holland. A portion of the roadway was constructed from US 30 to PA 772 in Leola. Construction was halted due to lack of funds and public consensus on the project. In 1977, the partially built roadway was planted and portions of it are currently leased to adjacent farmers for grazing; today, it is commonly known as the "Goat Path." The 1990's saw the project revived with studies undertaken as part of the NEPA process.

The PA 23 EIS Project currently underway is different from previous studies because it recognizes the public's perception of problems and deficiencies in the transportation network, it does not assume that the solution to these problems will be a new roadway or bypass. Federal transportation planning legislation and regulations enacted in the early 1990's (The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, (ISTEA) and TEA-21) created a new way of looking at significant transportation improvements. These guidelines call for establishing a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (in this case, the Lancaster County Transportation Coordinating Committee) to look at responding to transportation needs. The Corridor Study (MIS) conducted from 1997 to 1999 differed from previous studies, in that it looked at a broad area of approximately 162 sq miles and identified existing and future transportation problems in the area. The Corridor Study identified PA 23 as having current transportation problems unlike other areas that were identified as having potential future transportation problems. The EIS study differs from previous studies in that it will consider multiple modes of transportation (car, transit, rail, non-motorized, etc.) and additionally will examine where land use and growth management strategies can respond to or control transportation needs.

The PA 23 EIS Project calls for a careful analysis of the traffic and transportation "needs" (problems) to ensure that any solutions developed will address the real issues. As an agency using Federal funding, PENNDOT is required to complete a NEPA study to document the changes that may result from any of the transportation solutions, therefore the previous studies had to be completed. However, much of the information produced during the previous studies will be useful in the current study. For example, a Cultural Resource Plan, which was developed in the early 1990's, provides a base of information (focused on East Earl and Intercourse) and the study methodology that will guide the cultural resource analysis in this study. There is also data from earlier traffic studies, which will be applied to this study. In some instances, changes in the regulatory requirements or accepted study methodologies over time mean that new information will have to be collected.

Back to Top 2. How much will this study cost? What was spent on previous projects?

The studies and partial construction of the facility which is currently known as the "Goat Path" cost $9 million in 1974. Funds allocated for the PA 23 Corridor Study (MIS) totaled $1.5 million. Approximately two years was spent analyzing the existing and future transportation "needs" (problems) and developing alternative solutions for addressing those needs. Currently, $13 million dollars is programmed on the Lancaster County Transportation Improvement Program to complete the preliminary engineering phase and final design phase. At this time construction costs cannot be determined since an alternative has not been identified.

Back to Top 3. We need relief now. When is this going to be finished?

There are several intersection projects listed on the current Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) which may provide some relief soon.

The result of the PA 23 EIS Project will be the Record of Decision (ROD) on the project by the Federal Highway Administration. If the ROD selects a build alternative, transportation improvements will need to be included in the State and County's Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for funding and scheduling. Because the extent and nature of the projects that will emerge from the study is not known, it is not possible to schedule the funding or implementation for those potential projects. The County and PENNDOT share residents' desire for expediency and believe that by following a careful process with extensive public involvement, the outcome will be a project that best responds to the area's existing and future transportation needs.

Back to Top 4. What is the decision making process? Who will make the final decision? When will the decision be made?

The PA 23 EIS Project is intended to be a cooperative and collaborative process involving the public, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), the Lancaster County Transportation Coordinating Committee (LCTCC), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), environmental resource agencies, local transit operators, and area elected officials. PENNDOT and LCTCC will follow PENNDOT's Ten Step Process to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and narrow the range of alternatives to the selected alternative. FHWA is responsible for issuing the final decision on the selected alternative through a Record of Decision (ROD). It will be the responsibility of PENNDOT to follow through on Final Design and Construction (if necessary) of the selected alternative. It will be the responsibility of LCTCC to recommend and follow through with the municipalities to incorporate the Land Use Plan associated with the transportation alternative.

Back to Top 5. What Resource Agencies will PENNDOT and LCPC be consulting with as they follow the 10 Step Process and NEPA?

Throughout the PA 23 EIS Project, the project sponsors will be consulting with various Federal and State regulatory agencies who would be involved in the development of any project(s) that come out of the study. These agencies include:

Federal Agencies

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • US Army Corps of Engineers (COE)
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)

State Agencies

  • PA Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP)
  • PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR)
  • PA Game Commission (PGC)
  • PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC)
  • PA Department of Agriculture (PDA)
  • PA Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC)
  • PA Department of Community and Economic Development (PA DCED)

Back to Top 6. How can the people make their voice heard? Will public opinion carry as much weight as the politicians?

Public involvement is fundamental to the PA 23 EIS Project. The objectives of the public involvement effort are to present information in a timely, accurate and easily understandable manner and to incorporate public concerns and ideas into the decision-making process. The goal is to develop transportation improvements associated with land use that best meet the defined problems (also called "needs") while being responsive to the community interests and concerns.

Input provided by study area residents, business persons, and officials will be considered with equal regard during the study process. There will be a concerted effort made both to present study information to the public and to listen and learn about the public's opinion on the reasonableness of various improvements alternatives. PENNDOT's Public Involvement Handbook outlines recommendations to involve the public. NEPA requires that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) be circulated for comment and be made available to the public and agencies. A public hearing is provided to document comments on the DEIS. A response to everyone that provided comments at the public hearing will be contained within the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Incorporating the special concerns of non-motorized travelers, in addition to motorists, will be an important element in this EIS. The FEIS is also circulated for comments. It will be the goal of the public involvement program to involve the public throughout the process. It will be very important to consult with the public on specialized, local concerns. Following are primary ways for members of the public to get information, get involved and provide input:

a. Public Meeting - These meetings are to be held at major milestones at convenient locations throughout the study area. Project team members will be available to the public to explain project concepts and issues and to document concerns. Comment forms and questionnaires will be available at each meeting.

b. Public Hearing - A hearing is scheduled after the DEIS has been made available to the public for review. The hearing provides a forum for comments on the DEIS to be documented.

c. Newsletter - The publication of newsletters will occur when new information is developed.

d. Web Page - The County's Web page includes a section on the PA 23 EIS Project. This includes cumulative information on studies and meetings, announcements of future meetings, and a comment form. The address is http://www.PAROUTE23.com.

e. Direct Communication -Members of the public can address any comments or information about the study to Mark Malhenzie (PENNDOT Project Manager), PENNDOT District 8-0, 2140 Herr Street, Harrisburg, PA 17103-1699 or Douglas H. Warfel, P.E. (Vice President), KCI Technologies, Inc., 5001 Louise Drive, Suite 201, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055.

f. Special Meetings - Study team members are available to meet with organizations or groups that want to discuss issues of particular interest. To make arrangements, contact Douglas H. Warfel, P.E. at KCI Technologies, Inc. at 717-691-1340.

g. Study Groups - Technical advisory groups were created for this study and include representatives of broad-based community organizations and interests. Three study groups were developed by merging the seven study groups previously organized for the PA 23 EIS Corridor Study which were as follows: Historical and Archaeological Resources; Farmland and Natural Resources Study Group; Economic Vitality, Finance, and Transportation Alternatives Study Group; and Land Use and Growth Management and Government Study Group.

h. Community Advisory Committee (CAC) - The Community Advisory Committee was created to facilitate the timely exchange of pertinent ideas and accurate project information between the project team and community. The CAC membership reflects the diverse and valuable local interests within and immediately adjacent to the project area.

Back to Top 7. We know the Amish are reluctant to participate in public forums; how are their concerns going to be considered?

The Project Team recognizes that speaking out at public meetings is not always a comfortable way for members of the Old Order Communities (Amish and Mennonites) to voice their concerns. At the same time, members of these communities have said that they prefer to speak for themselves, rather than have outsiders represent their views and interests. Therefore, the Project Team is working closely with members of the Old Order Communities to find ways to promote their involvement and input. During the Corridor Study there were several meetings conducted specifically within the Old Order Communities and Study Team members met with a group of Amish Bishops. These types of gatherings in informal settings will continue throughout the PA 23 EIS Project.

TRAFFIC

Back to Top 1. What is wrong with taking X minutes to get from location A to B? That does not seem like a big enough problem to warrant a new road.

The PA 23 Corridor Study and PA 23 EIS Project arose to address three perceived problems: (1) congestion and safety problems arising from the conflicts between the motorized and non-motorized vehicles on the road; (2) increasing use of parallel, secondary roads to avoid congestion; and (3) the potential for congestion to affect the retention of jobs in the region. The studies undertaken for the PA 23 area do not start with the conclusion that a new road is necessarily an answer to traffic problems within the PA 23 Corridor. The No-Build or upgrade of existing PA 23 is just as viable as a new alignment. All factors contributing to the identified transportation problems or needs are to be considered and addressed in the decision making process.

Back to Top 2. Many trucks use Route 23 as a way to avoid paying the toll on the Turnpike. Will this be taken into consideration in the study?

Traffic origin and destination studies conducted for this project do not support this claim. In general, the PA 23 corridor does not serve much through traffic, including trucks and passenger vehicles. Between 80 and 90 percent of the traffic in the corridor is local, with an origin or destination in the study area. Therefore, much traffic diversion to and from other regional corridors (with the exception of U.S. 222) is not likely. Truck volumes are high in certain portions of the corridor, and will be accounted for in the study. However, there is no need to address the issue of trucks using the corridor to avoid tolls on the Turnpike.

Back to Top 3. How are traffic signals coordinated?

Traffic signals are coordinated by electronically synchronizing the green phase for the major road based upon the speed of traffic flow and the cycle length of the traffic signals. The green period of each successive traffic signal is adjusted in time to reduce the number of stops and the length of each stop.

Back to Top 4. How is the quality of traffic flow on a roadway with traffic signals measured?

The first measure of quality of traffic flow is the level of service of the roadway itself, which reflects how traffic would flow in the absence of traffic signals. It measures the percentage of time spent traveling below the posted speed limit. In areas where traffic signals are installed, they tend to control traffic flow in their immediate vicinity. In those areas a second measure is used. It is based upon the delays a motorist may expect to encounter traveling through the signalized intersection. This measure is based upon the amount of total delay, which includes stopped time and time spent slowing down and speeding up from a red signal indication.

Back to Top 5. What factors affect the performance of coordinated traffic signals?

Anything that changes the assumed average speed between the signalized intersections will affect the performance of the system. These factors include, but are not limited to: on-street parking, roadway lane widths, number of trucks and heavy vehicles, number of access points, and slower moving vehicles (including non-motorized). Since the analyses tools are not capable of accounting for all of these factors, travel time studies are conducted to confirm the average speed, and the analysis tools are modified to adjust to those speeds as measured in the field. While coordination can be of benefit to some roadway corridors, there is also a detriment. The side streets will receive more red time as the major roadway receives timing preference. The effect to each motorist will be different based on origin and destination.

Back to Top 6. What are the limitations of traffic signal coordination?

While traffic signal coordination can reduce stops and travel delays along a particular corridor, travel along PA 23 will not experience continuous free-flow conditions due to:

  • Capacity issues resulting from increased growth and subsequent traffic;
  • Presence of over 1,000 access points, roughly one every 70 feet, along the 14-mile corridor;
  • Presence of heavy trucks and slow moving vehicles in the traffic stream;
  • Irregularly spaced traffic signals;
  • Heavy demand by trucks needing to access properties along PA 23;
  • Heavy volume of left turn traffic at the signalized intersections and left turns into driveways that interrupt traffic flow and slow acceleration starts by heavy vehicles; and
  • Pedestrian crossings at intersections.

Back to Top 7. Can signal interconnection improve congestion on PA 23 in the long term?

There are currently 23 signalized intersections along PA 23 from US 30 to US 322. Based on the unique characteristics of the PA 23 corridor described above, the benefits of traffic signal coordination that might be achievable elsewhere are not anticipated to be achievable along PA 23 with future traffic volumes. Historically, there has been linear development along PA 23, and input received from stakeholders indicates that this linear development pattern is preferred for the future. Therefore, it is highly probable that several more signals will be required on PA 23 in the coming years as that development occurs. Overall, more diversion of traffic to side roads to avoid traffic congestion on PA 23 is expected in the future, even if some of the added signals may improve traffic flow.

RESOURCES

Back to Top 1. Where can I get copies of the study maps?

Area study maps can be viewed on the Web site PAROUTE23.com.

Back to Top 2. Why is farming (Lancaster's most important "industry") not considered along with other industries in assessing business needs and impacts?

For this study, farming is recognized as a business that not only includes the actual farm operations, but also various support services and businesses that are very significant contributors to the regional economy, culture and way of life. The Study Team is attempting to analyze the value of agriculture and agricultural-related businesses to the PA 23 EIS Study Area. The Study Team is working towards quantifying the value of this industry and to develop a methodology for quantifying impact of proposed transportation improvements on this industry.

Back to Top 3. Tourism is important to Lancaster's economy. Tourism depends on preserving the Plain Sect culture. At the same time, tourism also depends on adequate facilities (in this case, roads) to get the tourists to the "sites." But the very building of those facilities destroys the resource on which the tourism depends.

During the PA 23 Corridor Study Public Meetings this point was raised several times. It illustrates the dynamic connection between transportation and land use planning. The PA 23 EIS Project will be looking at a variety of options for meeting transportation needs and supporting economic vitality, while preserving the unique cultural heritage of the area and managing the land use implications of any proposed transportation investments.

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LAND USE

Back to Top 1. Land use controls are too open to political pressures; they are not a sure way of controlling development.

Commonwealth law prescribes that land use decisions be primarily made on the local (municipal) level, an approach that is considered responsive to the desires of the local citizens. However, Lancaster County has taken a proactive role in land use planning by working cooperatively with municipalities to define growth boundaries. Both the County and the municipalities agree that growth will be targeted to occur within Urban Growth Boundaries and discouraged outside them. The PA 23 EIS Project is looking at the interaction between land use policies and the transportation demands. An outcome of the study may be recommendations on growth management strategies which would support the community's vision for land use in the future should municipalities choose to implement.

Back to Top 2. Aren't some of the Amish leaving the county and selling their land to developers?

The County's Growth Tracking System indicates that farmland is indeed being sold and developed for more intensive uses. At the same time, the Amish population has grown, doubling each decade in the past 30 years. These trends have caused the demand and price of farmland to climb to roughly $5,000 to $7,000 an acre. Part of the demand for land within the Amish community has been met by Amish families buying land from Mennonite farmers who are increasingly pursuing other business enterprises. In some cases, Amish farmers have also developed other non-farming income opportunities on the farm. However, members of the Old Order Communities have reported that some families are leaving the area to find less expensive farmland still available in places like Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Back to Top 3. How will the Urban Growth Boundaries be incorporated into this study? Are current Land Use practices following the UGB's?

The Urban Growth Boundaries (UGBs) and Village Growth Boundaries (VGBs) have been established as a way to focus growth in targeted areas. As part of the PA 23 EIS Project, the UGBs and VGBs will be examined for their effectiveness in supporting existing and proposed land use policies. Early analysis showed that in some cases, infrastructure improvements (particularly sewer extensions), which tend to encourage development, have been supplied outside the UGB areas.

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OUTCOME

Back to Top 1. Finish the Goat Path; it's the obvious answer.

Many people who came to the Public Meetings for the PA Route 23 Corridor Study expected that the completion of the Goat Path would appear as a solution on the map. That is not the case - at least, not at this point. The PA 23 EIS Project is looking at a range of alternatives, some of which do not include the “goat path”.

The PA 23 EIS Project will evaluate all alternatives looking at both transportation and land use planning techniques. The analysis of transportation will involve engineering development of alternatives to minimize impacts to resources and support the proposed land use. The land use analysis will develop land use tools appropriate for the transportation alternatives. At this time in the study, it is impossible to say if the completion of the Goat Path will emerge as the reasonable and effective solution to the area's transportation needs.

Back to Top 2. If the Goat Path is not finished, will the land be returned to the farmers?

The PA Department of Transportation purchased the land as right-of-way for a roadway project that was intended to connect Route 30 and Route 772. If completion of the Goat Path does not emerge as a recommendation of this study, it would be up to the Department to decide if they would sell the property. It should be noted that the land is primarily suitable for grazing and could not be easily returned to cultivation since a roadway sub-base was constructed.

Back to Top 3. Why do we need a new road? Building a new road will only lead to more development, which leads to more demands for services, which leads to more development which leads to the need for more roads.

A new road is not a guaranteed outcome of the project development process. The PA 23 Corridor Study and PA 23 EIS Project arose to address three transportation needs. These needs include:

  • To improve the safety conditions at select intersections and roadway sections that currently exhibit high crash rates.
  • To improve the operational efficiency of the existing transportation system.
  • To accommodate future mobility needs for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods.

The studies undertaken for the PA 23 area do not start with the conclusion that a new road is necessarily an answer to traffic problems within the PA 23 Corridor. An important component of the EIS project is the inclusion of a land use study which will recommend strategies to control land use. The strategies will need to be adopted by the municipalities to be effective. Another part of the PA 23 EIS Project will consists of an analysis of the secondary and cumulative impacts that could reasonably be expected to arise as the indirect result of any improvements or changes in the existing transportation system. An important objective of the public involvement process is to define a consensus on the values and interest which people want to shape their community and to develop transportation improvement alternatives which can address a balance of conflicting interests (such as the desire to both maintain existing rural lifestyles and encourage economic vitality).

Back to Top 4. Will improvements to PA Route 23 be part of the outcome, even if there is another new road built?

It is conceivable that the outcome of the PA 23 EIS Study will include multiple strategies or projects to deal with transportation needs over the next 30 years. There may be one large project or a collection of smaller improvements. If improvements to existing Route 23 are considered, it will be important to measure the expected benefits against the impacts to existing home ands businesses.

 
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